It's about her.
It's one of the first significant epiphanies of early adulthood: when you realize we may be attracted to self-destructive tendencies in other people.
It's not your fault; it's just unresolved trauma disguised as love and affection, but that "aha!" moment feels substantial. When you can finally pin down the errors you've made in past relationships, recognize, and absorb them—even if the "why" remains absent—you've grown substantially as a person. Selena Gomez has had a similar epiphany. While "Lose You To Love Me" and her latest single, "Look at Me Now," can be interpreted to be about Justin Bieber, the bigger takeaway is that Gomez—much like other #MeToo era pop starlet's—has realized that men ain't sh*t. The result has been some of the best pop music in recent memory.
Selena Gomez - Look At Her Now (Official Video) www.youtube.com
"Look At Her Now" is Selena Gomez's relationship memorandum. "What a thing to be human," she sings as she reflects candidly. While braggadocious in execution, "Look at Her Now" is devoid of a well-earned bitterness. Gomez has been absent from the limelight for a few years, and despite her exes' relentless airing of her dirty laundry, Gomez herself has remained mum on the drama of her love life, facing inward to reflect, rather than outward to cry and moan.
Gomez's latest single is similar to "Lose You To Love Me" in that it's not abrasive in its message. Even when her new music invited rumors about the relationship between Gomez and Bieber's wife, Hailey Baldwin, both contested parties were quick to diffuse the situation. "I don't stand for tearing other women down," Gomez said in a post, "be kind." Tabloids will continue to conjecture, but we're reminded that these songs are about Gomez and for Gomez. Everything else is just speculation.
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Happy birthday to the world's biggest genre
On this day in 1973, Clive Campbell, the Jamaican-American "selector" known as DJ Kool Herc, hosted a "back to school jam" at 1520 Sedgewick Avenue in the Boogie Down Bronx of New York City.
Armed with a booming sound system and reggae beats, Herc– a shortened nickname for "Hercules"– commanded insatiable audiences across the South Bronx with his unique looping technique called the "Merry-Go Round." "[I knew that] they were waiting for this particular break," Herc later said, "and I got a couple of records that got the same break up in it. I wonder how it would be if I put them all together."
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His latest song with Justin Bieber, "I Don't Care," perpetuates the narrative that romance saves us from ourselves.
When Ed Sheeran released "Shape of You" in 2017, it was one of the year's biggest songs.
Yet, many considered it to be shallow and misogynistic, with the track's abhorrent music video proving that, at the peak of his career, Sheeran would fully embrace his new "image" of a perturbed, self-deprecating man whose own worth would be based on who he's sleeping with.
In his latest song, "I Don't Care," Sheeran once again clings to this narrative. He describes himself as being at a "party [he] don't wanna be at," standing in the corner, wondering why people don't look at him in the eyes. "I always feel like I'm nobody," he sings from said corner. "Can you take my hand?" he calls out to his date who is having more fun than him, "finish my drink and say 'shall we dance?'" The chorus digs deeper into this idea, with Sheeran saying things like, "You're making me feel like maybe I am somebody." Structurally, the song is a carbon copy of "Shape Of You," relying on a janky-reggaeton instrumental, shallow lyrics, and a feature from Justin Bieber to carry it to the charts. Even Genius couldn't help but point out the single's lyrical similarities to both "Gallaway Girl" and "Shape Of You."
But the problem with "I Don't Care" is that it wants the listener to think this romance is ideal. The idea of placing partners on a pedestal is a tired trope that contributes to a toxic dynamic in romantic relationships. Sheeran is once again putting his self-worth on his partner, continuing to perpetuate the idea that a woman's affection is something to earn in order to improve one's standing in the world. Sheeran presents this dynamic as ideal by justifying the narrative that everyone has a soul mate who is going to sweep them off their feet and take their issues away. While that seems particularly critical of what is surely meant to be a harmless love song, you have to keep in mind who exalted Sheeran to fame: lonely teenagers. As shown below, they all find deep meaning and emotional connection to his music.
"Who wants to fit in anyway?" Sheeran sings on the hook. But at some point, don't we all want to? Don't we all want to be accepted and loved for who we are by more than just one person? Isn't that, in turn, an unfair amount of pressure to put on that one person? The appeal of the outcast is compelling for young people who feel misunderstood; but in practice, it usually amounts to feelings of loneliness or inadequacy. But if you're Ed Sheeran—a happily married, Grammy-award winning star, adored by legions of fans—it's easy to say the grass is greener on the other side.
Mackenzie Cummings-Grady is a creative writer who resides in the Brooklyn area. Mackenzie's work has previously appeared in The Boston Globe, Billboard, and Metropolis Magazine. Follow him on Twitter @mjcummingsgrady.
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