Monday, August 31st, 2020

Trevor Daniel ft. Selena Gomez – Past Life

The past life, also known as March 2020…


Wayne Weizhen Zhang: I have yet to be impressed by anything that Finneas has produced for artists other than Billie, and “Past Life” continues that trend: generic teen pop that wastes the talents of Selena Gomez, who has had way more ambitious and interesting singles this year. 

Jacob Sujin Kuppermann: “Past Life” is a rare combination of boring and unpleasant. The boredom comes from the songwriting– Daniel has nothing to say except platitudes that fail to reach escape velocity and free themselves from his cookie-cutter malaise. The unpleasantness comes from everything else– the grating textures of their voices, the mosquito-buzz of Finneas’ synths, the YouTube-cover quality of the acoustic guitar.

Katherine St Asaph: Not sure what it is — Finneas’s attempt to make a Barenaked Ladies or pop-phase Incubus song? The piano line precisely measured, like teardrops in bullet-time? Caroline Pennell‘s melody that knots over itself like a friendship bracelet? The Winamp visualization of a video? Probably not the faux-koan of a lyric (if “last night was the last night of my past life,” and if yesterday were tomorrow and today would be Friday…), but I remain a sentimental piece of shit, so who knows? And while Gomez’s teardrop at the end is very clearly Acting, maybe even CGI, I might have shed a real one.

Alex Clifton: Who let Selena work on this boring-ass Ellie Goulding song?

Alfred Soto: Did Selena Gomez release an album this year — a good album? Her part in “Past Life” may not have disgraced the section with “Lose You to Love Me”; she has a gift for clarity. With Trevor Daniel thinking he’s Ryan Tedder, her performance is akin to an embarrassed girlfriend ignoring her drunk date. 

Nortey Dowuona: This kind of synth ballad, with the noodling bass, washed-out pianos, and rote bass drum programming, is perfect for Selena, but Trevor apparently only had “my last made me feel like I would never be anything” in his notebook because everything he sings here is an embarrassment. But Selena is gossamer over this, and even her auto-tuning is a success.

Tobi Tella: Selena is difficult to figure out, but the “could be any B-tier pop singer” factor works for her here; her contributions are elegant, soft, and well-timed. “Past Life” itself is closer to schlock, but I can’t bring myself to fully condemn it because that focal line is so evocative. I wish it was the centerpiece of a more memorable song.

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