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Selena Gomez said in October that her first two singles from Rare, “Lose You to Love Me” and “Look at Her Now” were the big Justin Bieber breakup songs: “These two songs were me wrapping up a chapter in a pretty little bow,” she told Ryan Seacrest. “And the rest of the album is just all about where I am now and where I’m going so in my opinion, these are great songs, but I’ve saved the best for later.”
The rest did come, and while some seem to touch on the aftermath of her final split from Bieber (he went on to date Hailey Baldwin in June 2018, got engaged to her in July 2018, and married to her in September 2018), others explore her healing process and current life as a single woman.
Gomez confirmed as much to WSJ magazine in an interview released this week: “I’ve been single for over two years now. I’m okay with that.” As Gomez puts it, she’s almost fully healed. “I remember Taylor [Swift] said when I played her some of the new songs, ‘I feel like I’m seeing who you were before this,’” she told the outlet. “That makes me happy. I like feeling like that girl again.”
Here, the most revealing lyrics from Gomez’s album.
The title track: Gomez reveals that her ex undervalued her, and she’s ready to find someone else that won’t.
It feels like you don’t care / Why don’t you recognize I’m so rare? / Always there / You don’t do the same for me / That’s not fair
I don’t have it all / I’m not claiming to / But I know that I’m special, yeah / And I bet there’s somebody else out there / To tell me I’m rare / To make me feel rare
See ELLE’s full lyrics explainer on “Rare” here.
“Dance Again” is Gomez’s ode to getting back out there and meeting new people, loving again, and feeling like herself post-breakup. It explores her confidence and comfort in being herself and vulnerable and emotional.
Vulnerable / Ain’t easy, believe me, but I go there / Mmm, ah / It’s like I’m ten feet tall / I’m high off the weight of them shoulders
Happiness / Ain’t something you sit back and you wait for / Mmm, ah / Confidence / Is throwing your heart through every brick wall
Read the full lyrics to “Dance Again” here on Genius.
“Look at Her Now”
Gomez’s second single, the one she released to reassure fans that she’s doing just fine post-split and is confident she’ll find love again when she’s ready.
Of course she was sad / But now she’s glad she dodged a bullet (Mm) / Took a few years to soak up the tears / But look at her now, watch her go
She knows she’ll find love (She knows) / Only if she wants it / She knows she’ll find love (She knows) / On the up from the way down / Look at her now, watch her go
Read ELLE’s full lyrics explainer on “Look at Her Now” here.
“Lose You to Love Me”
The pointed farewell to Bieber and their on-off relationship. The first single that kicked off Rare‘s promotion. Gomez explores how she needed to move past Bieber to truly love herself and how toxic their relationship had become.
You promised the world and I fell for it / I put you first and you adored it / Set fires to my forest / And you let it burn / Sang off-key in my chorus / ‘Cause it wasn’t yours
Set fire to my purpose / And I let it burn / You got off on the hurtin’ / When it wasn’t yours, yeah
We’d always go into it blindly / I needed to lose you to find me / This dancing was killing me softly / I needed to hate you to love me, yeah
Read ELLE’s full lyrics explainer on “Lose You to Love Me” here.
Gomez explores dating again, being single, and men she’s not interested in. It’s a very confident track—a contrast from the preceding “Lose You to Love Me.”
You all in your feelings, baby, all into me / I’m one in a billion, baby, don’t you agree?
I’m breakin’ hearts like a heart attack / Got him right where the carat’s at / Wrapped ’round my finger like a ring, ring, ring / They just like puppets on a string, string, string / I put it down, they call me up / They doin’ way too much, so I’ll just let it ring, ring, ring (Oh-oh)
Read the full lyrics to “Ring” here on Genius.
Gomez gets candid about allowing herself to be romantically vulnerable with someone after their relationship has failed before. It could be that she’s hypothetically exploring the idea with Bieber, or she’s making peace with the fact that she was willing to reconcile and go all in, but her prospective partner was not.
If I give you every piece of me, I know that you could drop it / Give you the chance, I know that you could take advantage, but you caught it / If I open up my heart to you, I know that you could lock it / Throw away the key, and keep it there forever in your pocket / If I give the opportunity to you, then would you blow it? / If I was the greatest thing to happen to you, would you know it? / If my love was like a flower, would you plant it? Would you grow it? / I’ma give you all my body, are you strong enough to hold it?
If I show you all my demons, and we dive into the deep end / Would we crash and burn like every time before? / I would tell you all my secrets, wrap your arms around my weakness / If the only other option’s letting go / I’ll stay vulnerable, yeah
Read the full lyrics to “Vulnerable” here on Genius.
“People You Know”
Gomez reflects on how a relationship changed with time. At this point, she no longer knows a person she was once close to at all. It’s a poignant reflection on what happens after breakups.
These days, we couldn’t be farther / So how’s it feel to be on the other side?
So many wasted (Wasted) / Nights with (Nights with) you (You) / I still could taste it (Taste it) / I hate it, wish I could take it back ’cause / We used to be close, but people can go / From people you know to people you don’t / And what hurts the most is people can go / From people you know to people you don’t
Read ELLE’s full lyrics explainer on “People You Know” here.
“Let Me Get Me”
This song seems to explore Gomez taking full control of her headspace and happiness. She’s talked openly about her struggles with anxiety and depression, telling WSJ magazine, “My highs were really high, and my lows would take me out for weeks at a time. I found out I do suffer from mental health issues, and, honestly, that was such a relief. I realized that there was a way to get help and to find people that you trust.” She added, “I got on the right medication, and my life has been completely changed.”
I’ma dance for therapy, all my babies and me / But tonight, it’s for free / No self-sabotage, no letting my thoughts run / Me and the spiral are done / Burn this camouflage I’ve been wearing for months / Tryna let a little happy in for once
Don’t get me down, I won’t let me get me down / I’m good right now, I won’t let me get me— / Take that tired heart and go and turn it inside-out
Read the full lyrics to “Let Me Get Me” here on Genius.
Gomez sings about the connection she has with someone one night out and the hope it’ll last beyond that.
It started polite, out on thin ice / ‘Til you came over to break it / I threw you a line and you were mine / Yeah, I was afraid, but you made it safe / I guess that is our combination / Said you feel lost, well, so do I
So won’t you call me in the morning? / I think that you should call me in the morning / If you feel the same
Engulfed in the flames / Engulfed in the shame / Betrayed by your imagination / In over my head, but that’s alright
Read the full lyrics to “Crowded Room” here on Genius.
Gomez sings about a toxic person she tried to date who went from hot to cold really fast. It’s a relatable experience most people dating casually have sampled once or twice.
Hey, you started out sweet talk, then hard candy / Words were like licorice to the taste / We slowly up the sugar, it went to waste / Went to waste / Oh, you started gettin’ funny with no jokes / I started seein’ through you like a ghost / And now I’m pretty sure I can’t take no more / I can’t take no more-ore
I think you’re kind of crazy / And not the good kind, baby / ‘Cause you’re actin’ super shady / You know it, you know it / Been dodgin’ phone calls lately / But still textin’ me, “Baby”
Read the full lyrics to “Kinda Crazy” here on Genius.
Gomez sings about a casual fling who may not be good for her in the long term, but for the short term…
I’m a sensitive situation (Mmm) / You’re a hot and cold combination / But we both know we got complications
I try not to bother, not to bother you (Ah) / But my kind of trouble likes your trouble too (Ah)
You may not be the one, uh-huh / But you look like fun
Can we keep it on a first name basis? (Ah) / We could overcrowd each other’s spaces / You get me higher than my medication / Take me to different places, let’s face it, I’m gettin’ impatient
Read the full lyrics to “Fun” here on Genius.
“Cut You Off”
As co-writer Lisa Owen put it, this song is to an “asshole boy who shall not be named.” It captures the moment Gomez decided to let go of the ex and her hopes of having him in her life.
The truth is that I think I’ve had enough / Professionally messin’ with my trust / How could I confuse that shit for love?
Emotionally messin’ with my health (Ha) / How could I confuse that shit for love?
When I’m without you / I don’t overthink it, I just carry on / Get you out my head now / I just cut you off
Read ELLE’s full lyrics explainer on “Cut You Off” here.
“A Sweeter Place”
The finale track where Gomez reflects on where she’s been emotionally and where she wants to go.
Is there a place where I can hide away? / Red lips, french kiss my worries all away / There must be a sweeter place / We can sugarcoat the taste
You’ll really wanna know where I’ve been all this time / So lemme tell ya / Ooh, got two feet on the ground and felt what real is like / What it was like / Livin’ out of the scene, out in the wild / Learnin’ to breathe / Up in the clouds, far from the crowds / I can’t believe I can be loud / Holdin’ hands with the darkness and knowin’ my heart is allowed / Allowed
Read the full lyrics to “A Sweeter Place” here on Genius.