Last week, Selena Gomez made a soft comeback to the pop music scene with producer Kygo, releasing the feel-good, chant-heavy tropical house song “It Ain’t Me.” The song starts out with happy, simple strums from a guitar — so happy that simply by hearing them, you know a euphoric song is on the way. Gomez enters lightly atop the arrangement with subdued vocals, singing, “I had a dream / We were sipping whiskey neat / Highest floor of The Bowery / Nowhere’s high enough.” But the contented lyrics quickly go awry, signaling a change in Gomez’s perception of her relationship — “Somewhere along the lines, we stopped seeing eye to eye” — a relatable, albeit safe theme and story that sets the true tone for the song.
The chorus and breakdown, however, are where this new track truly shines. Chanting a declaration of freedom from the binds of a poisonous relationship, Gomez channels the band fun.’s 2012 smash hit “We Are Young.” And afterwards, Kygo drops the mother of all breakdowns. It’s a simple bit of production, really, with luminescent, jumping synths — but what makes it spectacular are Gomez’s distorted vocals playing over it. Another chant of ahs comes through, accentuated and spaced out by elongated versions of the words that began the song — “Ah, ah, ah-ah, (Bowery) / Ah, ah, ah-ah (Whiskey neat) / Ah, ah, ah-ah (Grateful) … ” It’s one of those vocal arrangements that sounds iconic even when it hits the ears for the first time, also reminiscent of fun.’s hit in that it evokes images of youth, freedom and more than few good feelings.
Contact Dante Laird at dlaird2 ‘at’ stanford.edu.