Friday, November 1st, 2019

Selena Gomez – Lose You To Love Me

We like it like a lose song, maybe…


Alex Clifton: I’m fascinated by songs where singers air their grievances and fans all know which specific people they are calling out. It’s one of the reasons I fell in love with Taylor Swift’s music way back in the day; I love a good gossip. Over the past eight years, I’ve worried about Selena with relation to Justin Bieber constantly. Not my relationship, I know, but he seemed like an immature asswipe when Selena could do much better. She’s avoided discussing Bieber in much of her previous music. Even the songs that were definitely about him (“Love Will Remember,” “The Heart Wants What It Wants”) were written in abstract terms so you’d only really know the subject if you spent time following the Selena/Justin drama. Cut to “Lose You to Love Me,” where she goes for the kill: “in two months you replaced us,” a clear reference to Justin suddenly moving onto his now-wife Hailey. Such a vulnerable and specific track is a strong statement from Selena, who in the past two years has stayed relatively out of the public eye and is now ready to share parts of her story. There’s no red scarf here, not that level of minutiae, but frankly she doesn’t need it when much of her toxic and turbulent relationship with Bieber played out in the tabloids. And god it’s so cathartic. It’s an acknowledgement of hurt and anger but a phoenix move for Selena; she’s rising from the debris stronger than before, and she wants you to know it. I’m so pleased for her. In the immortal words of her friend Taylor, “she lost him but she found herself and somehow that was everything.”

Wayne Weizhen Zhang: A decade into her career as one of the world’s most popular artists, it’s worth noting that Selena Gomez’s ascent to fame was improbable. She didn’t have the most powerful voice, dance skills, or even a number one hit — but especially early in her career, she was able to leverage her very public personal life to fuel interest in her music: a Disney fan base, a feud with Demi Lovato which the media loved to cover, membership in Taylor Swift’s entourage, and, of course, most significantly, an infamous on-and-off-again relationship. But over the past four years, Selena has developed an effective signature vocal style — hushed, controlled whispers which burst into moments of pop brilliance — which makes it clear that her music is more than capable of standing on her own. So it’s all the more frustrating then, that after seeing how stellar her music can be removed from celebrity context, that the first song we get off her long awaited third solo album is yet another song about Justin Bieber. But while I initially rejected “Lose You to Love Me” as a regression into formulaic pop balladry, there’s a surprising amount of depth. The song sounds like genuine healing, coming from an artist singing her truth. Her voice is soft but powerful, emotive but not overwrought, reflective but not nostalgic. A line like “now the chapter is closed and done” could land cliché and hollow, but Selena sings it like someone who finally took a breath of fresh air for the first time in years. This is all to say: if we have to listen to this one last song about Justin Bieber, at least it’s the first genuinely compelling one, and a step in seeing her evolution as an artist and celebrity.

Leah Isobel: When Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake broke up, he got to project his messy breakup feelings outward; he produced imagery about spying on her doppelganger and fantasizing about her death. But for Selena — Timberlake’s 2010s tabloid counterpart — unrepentant sleaze is a much riskier proposition, at least on the charts. Instead, she sublimates her anger, returning to the baby-voiced Julia Michaels wheelhouse. The mass of vocal effects on the chorus is surprisingly effective, but for an artist who was briefly one of the more progressive voices on Top 40 radio, this defanged “Everytime” is a little disappointing.

Katherine St Asaph: Piano ballads are to music what Joseph Campbell is to narratives. Not a song but a beat on a storyboard — barely a storyboard, even, but tabloid kerfuffle.

Michael Hong: Selena Gomez’s career has long mirrored Demi Lovato’s, from child acting stints on Barney & Friends to the release of their fifth studio albums within a week of each other in 2015. Here she goes for something similar to Lovato’s “Sober,” released last year as a sort of song-as-a-statement — though Gomez’s statement is more uplifting than heartbreaking. “Sober” was a rare instance where Lovato never pushed her voice too far, with its statement made more effective by the events that followed; her confession came across as authentically personal as it unfolded in real-time. “Lose You to Love Me,” like “Sober,” is stripped down to its bare bones for a more intimate feeling, but here, it’s questionable whether the quiet dynamic is one of Gomez’s stylistic choices or a symptom of her limited vocal range. There are interesting touches, like the echo-chamber effect on her voice for the line “in two months, you replaced us,” which makes the following lines about being broken all the more devastating. But there are also moments like the choir vocals on the final chorus that are predictably overwrought. While “Lose You to Love Me” is a delicately gorgeous and uplifting track, its statement is diminished by how tiresome the Gomez-Bieber narrative feels. We’re no longer watching her relationship end in the present, but instead seeing Selena Gomez finally claim closure on a relationship that has long since run its course (at least in the public eye). More interesting is the single released the following day, which features the offbeat personality she’s carved out for herself over the past few years and is equally effective at demonstrating that Selena Gomez has moved on.

Alfred Soto: In a tradition of self-reflexive love songs, she tells us she’ll sing the chorus off-key (it sounds okay to me). Maybe this line represents one of Selena Gomez’s contributions. If I see Julia Michaels, I think of phony uplift, of which the chorus has hints. Then Gomez counters with a slightly hoarse, un-melodramatic dropping of the line, “You promised the world and I fell for it. A performance with grandness in its bones, and it almost succeeds. 

Stephen Eisermann: I’m a sucker for big, cathartic choruses, but the verses really let me down here. Between Selena’s weird vocal, the melodramatic strings, and the unintentionally funny lyrics (I’m not convinced that the whole singing off-key line isn’t a bit that she’s delivering with a wink), it’s really hard to take the track seriously. But when that big booming chorus hits, backing vocals and all, you can almost feel Selena letting go of everything Bieber did to her. And that, that’s lovely. It’s also why the other track released after this is so much better. 

Hannah Jocelyn: A song that’s perfectly in tune with 2019-type sad music yet unafraid to be huge. It doesn’t have the stakes of “Praying” or the bounce of “It Ain’t Me,” but that’s not a problem. The gang vocals that plagued so much of mid-to-late 2010s pop — including Selena Gomez’s own music — blossom into a full choir, beautifully contrasting with her usual hushiness. It should be Real Music-y –even the lyrics are less playful and twee than Michaels and Tranter usually go, barring the “killing me softly” shoehorn and obvious title — but because of how thin Gomez’s voice sounds, it’s not. (The most Michaels-y touch is the backing vocals going “to love, to love” instead of “to love me, love me” like I’d thought, as in “I needed to lose you to love again at all.”) The pop most beloved non-mainstream artists are producing is proudly campy, and that’s great! Gomez seems to be headed in that direction too with “Look at Her Now,” but this unexpected pivot to pathos inexplicably works thanks to the strategic arrangement and lyricism.

Kayla Beardslee: It’s fascinatingly difficult to determine where Julia Michaels’ style ends and Selena Gomez’s begins, and the whispered melodies and “Issues” violins here don’t help. Although Gomez’s voice can sometimes be aggressively pleasant, she digs in enough to communicate real emotion here, and the choir backing vocals are surprisingly powerful. The song makes a poignant, if heavy-handed, statement about maturing and finding your identity, amplified by this being her comeback single: Ariana has “thank u, next,” Miley has “Slide Away,” and now Selena has “Lose You to Love Me.”

Jackie Powell: While Julia Michaels has commented that Selena Gomez is indeed a songwriter, I still don’t believe that’s the proper term to describe her contributions to music. Gomez is a storyteller first and foremost. That’s the term: storyteller. Sometimes those can be interpreted as synonymous or givens of each other, but let’s remember that Gomez has been telling stories since she was seven years old. Her art is most successful when she’s in control of her narrative and knows exactly what story she’s about to tell. When she has the opportunity to perform her stories, she goes all out and sells it exactly as someone who’s been on stage since childhood can. That may sound like something Ariana Grande has done in the past year or so with “thank u, next,” since both “Lose You to Love Me” and that highlight some of the most dramatic breakups in pop culture. But as Tatiana Cirisano pointed out for Billboard, Gomez’s approach is the contrapositive to Grande’s. Both cuts are relatable and have a commitment to empowerment and autonomy, but Gomez makes her track a moment without a teen movie pastiche. Her choice to emphasize and crescendo on the lyrics “In two months you replaced us” and “Made me think I deserved it” speak loudly. This track is all about its dynamics in its minimalistic glory. Imagine Gomez was performing a monologue. That’s the type of choice a storyteller makes. Justin Tranter and Michaels provide the melody and the nuts and bolts, but the concept is clearly all Gomez. The backing vocals in each chorus from Tranter and Michaels are symbolic of what they’ve meant to Gomez over the years. They’ve been by her side every step of the way and have lifted her up. That’s beautiful. What’s also beautiful is if I ever wanted to learn more about Justin Bieber, the lyrics “Sang off-key in my chorus / ‘Cause it wasn’t yours” tell me all I need to know.

Josh Buck: The Selena Gomez x Julia Michaels joints never miss.

Abdullah Siddiqui: Selena Gomez’s discography in the last four years has largely consisted of stylistic meandering and incomplete ideas. She hasn’t quite been able to settle on a sound or a narrative. This feels like she’s starting from scratch. It’s a pretty solid place to start.

Reader average: [5] (7 votes)

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3 Responses to “Selena Gomez – Lose You To Love Me”

  1. Will you guys be covering her superior tune too?

  2. Love everyone’s blurbs! There’s predictions that this might hit #1 next week: would be a huge moment for Selena, and this certainly feels like the right song for it.

  3. In the era of Lizzo-inspired self-love, Selena Gomez’ message has never felt more timely, and while her voice might lack the power of her contemporary’s AMEN!-worthy belts (to the point where Whisperlena memes are only a teeny bit exaggerated), “Lose You To Love Me” feels just as empowering (if not, more) in its own right. The production feels disconnected at times (Halfhearted Bootleg Baroque violins don’t really do any favors), but each line is still a moment of self-growth in spite of heartbreak. And when the chorus comes in, a choir of To love’s, her voice becomes the silver lining in the loss of innocence, and the ending notes of the piano paint that first ray of sunshine that peeks through the clouds, that light after the storm in Lorde’s “Liability.”