Album Review: Selena Gomez - Revival | Redbrick | University of Birmingham

Album Review: Selena Gomez – Revival

George Griffiths reviews Selena Gomez's coming-of-age album.

The coming-of-age record by a former-teen popstar has become such well-worn territory that it might as well be considered a cliche. Britney, Christina and Miley’s efforts did (for better or worse) change their career trajectory forever away from the teen-pop of songs like ‘Party in the USA’ and ‘…Baby One More Time.’

Selena Gomez, however, is a much more interesting prospect as she’s never really seemed to be fully-formed as a pop-star; from her barely-there band ‘The Scene’ to her debut album ‘Stars Dance,’ Selena’s never seemed totally committed to forging a musical identity to compete with her peers. ‘Revival’ sees her, for the first time, properly getting on with it and creating an album that takes its queues from Christina’s ‘Stripped’ and Britney’s ‘In The Zone’ (and learning lessons from Miley’s ‘Bangerz’) to create an album with the theme of empowerment and the all the trials and tribulations that come with finding your self-worth and confidence when you grow up as one of the most recognisable faces in the world.

The sensual first single ‘Good For You’ with A$AP Rocky was a good start for Selena’s very literal revival, and the Charli XCX-assisted second single ‘Same Old Love’ was a welcome change of pace and an introduction into an album where there are a lot more bangers than you probably expected. From the barmy, (the Max Martin assisted ‘Hands To Myself’) to the groovy (the 70s vibing ‘Me & The Rhythm’) and the empowering (the bonus track ‘Cologne’) Selena finally puts her money where her mouth is, quite literally. She might not have the vocal chops of fellow Disney-fellow Demi Lovato or the raw star power of Miley, but Selena’s truly found her voice on this record, and its turned from an auto-tuned chirp into a deeper, almost huskier sulk that conveys the intrinsic vulnerability of the album much better than Demi et. al ever could. 

Selena’s never seemed totally committed to forging a musical identity to compete with her peers. ‘Revival’ sees her, for the first time, properly getting on with it.

This vulnerability and the sense of empowerment (and revival) all feeds into what to these ears must be the album’s center-piece; the expected ‘Is it about Bieber?’ banger is called ‘Sober’ and its an absolute gem; stunningly dark (‘You don’t know how to love me when you’re sober’ is the chorus) and yet at the same time uplifting - think Sia’s ‘Chandelier’ but with more hand-claps and 80s synthesisers - it will probably end up being the best song Selena will ever put her name to and it fleshes out the album and its themes more clearly and coherently than you could ever have imagined.

Overall, Selena’s literal and metaphorical ‘Revival’ is one of the most pleasant musical surprises of the year; where a previously under-produced under-developed pop-star finally becomes a singer. It’s her ‘Stripped,’ her ‘Into The Zone,’ her ‘Like A Virgin’ and her ‘Bangerz’ all rolled into one and Selena emerges as something she never quite has been before; relevant.

Cross-Media editor for Redbrick Film, English with Creative Writing second year. Also likes Style by Taylor Swift. (@georgegriffiths)


17th October 2015 at 8:50 am

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