Entertainment

Selena Gomez’s New Album ‘Rare’ Is Her Final ‘Goodbye’ To Justin Bieber

Four tumultuous and headline-heavy years after the release of her last album, Selena Gomez wowed fans by dropping her striking new record, Rare, on Global Release Day. So far, it’s been touted as a vibrant ode to self-love and acceptance, embracing confidence in the face of strife and distress. Gomez herself has described the album as “the most honest music” she’s ever made, presenting it as a sort of diary of her past few years—and, needless to say, the internet is having a serious heyday in the face of this epic new new.

Kickstarting her entertainment career as Alex Russo on Disney Channel’s Wizards of Waverly Place, Gomez catalyzed her role as a solo pop artist with 2013’s Stars Dance, a record that met mixed reviews with its heavily electronic tone. Stars Dance was followed by 2015’s Revival, which explored the conflicts of Gomez’s personal life through a more sultry, mid-tempo sound, ultimately putting Gomez on the map as a pop artist with serious potential. And now, four years later, fans can revel in what many are calling Gomez’s best album yet: a deeply confessional record that chronicles the myriad of highly-publicized struggles Gomez has endured since the release of her sophomore album.

An example: the Billboard-Hot-100 topping single, “Lose You to Love Me,” was evidently written after Gomez returned from a stay in a mental health treatment center.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zlJDTxahav0

The song seems to allude to the high-profile, on-again-off-again relationship shared by Gomez and Justin Bieber, even referencing the two-month period between their breakup in 2018 and the start of Bieber’s new romance with Hailey Baldwin. Collaborator Julia Michaels had allegedly begun the composition, eventually showing it to Gomez when she returned from treatment.

“When I walked in [the studio], it was literally just the piano and the chorus and a bit of the first verse and I just sat there,” Gomez explained. “And I tell people this, too, because it was also such a very raw moment. A, I had just gotten back, but B, we were in the bright daylight, and that’s not normally how you’re maybe talking about something like that.”

“Look at Her Now” shares a similar theme, chronicling a breakup (with Bieber or The Weeknd?) that led her to be “sad / but now she’s glad she dodged a bullet.” When describing this incredibly symphonic, catchy bop, Gomez said: “It’s about kind of redeeming yourself and making sure that you acknowledge that you kind of mess up and you go through your stuff but you can always come out of it just feeling like a boss.” This sentiment seems totally entwined in the effervescent, bouncy beat and the colorful aura of the music video, released back in October.

And in the titular song—which begins our journey through the album’s sequence of synth-heavy melodies and airy vocals—Gomez addresses a lover, telling them: “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.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ia1iuXbEaYQ

Although the subject matter of these songs is rather heavy, steeped in vulnerability and raw emotion, the songs are composed with a clear lightness, a vibrancy embodied further by the luminescent rainbows threaded through the pixels of the accompanying music videos.

Beyond the breakup fodder, one might assume the song “Dance Again” to carry a certain darkness and intensity, as it refers to Gomez’s famous battle with lupus—a struggle that garnered much attention in 2017 when Gomez posted a photo following a kidney transplant made possible by her best friend, actress Francia Raisa. But even this track is layered with lively synth sounds, all merging to create a chewy, up-tempo track that urges the listener to move, to revel in Gomez’s gratitude to be able to dance after enduring so many mental and physical health challenges. And as we jump around, sharing Gomez’s excitement and celebrating her return to a confident, self-assured, and strong state, we hear her sing: “All the trauma’s in remission / no, I don’t need permission / feels so, feels so, feels so good to dance again.”

There has been an outpouring of support from fans all across social media, with people expressing their love of the new album—from the slightly more experimental sound, to the rawness and vulnerability of the lyrics.

https://www.instagram.com/p/B7Jj_U_DsjO/

And Gomez has been making sure the album stays at the very top of people’s feeds, posting content that gives her followers a behind-the-scenes look at each new music video. As people continue to discover this delightful new release, we look forward to all the supplementary Rare content that’s sure to pop up in the meantime, rooting for Gomez’s progress all the while.

Lil Nas Is Performing His Super Hit “Old Town Road” At The Grammys Alongside BTS—The First Ever K-Pop Band To Be Invited On Stage

Entertainment

Lil Nas Is Performing His Super Hit “Old Town Road” At The Grammys Alongside BTS—The First Ever K-Pop Band To Be Invited On Stage

lilnasx / Instagram

BTS and Lil Nas definitely dominated the music scene in 2019. Radio stations couldn’t stop playing their music — and we couldn’t stop listening. And because we can’t decide who we love the most, The Recording Academy and CBS confirmed that the rapper and K-pop group will be performing together at this year’s Grammys.

BTS is going to perform at the Grammys!

The news was shared by the Recording Academy itself just a short time ago, and it’s even more exciting than an initial report that said only RM would be performing. 

Initially, fans thought that only one BTS member would be performing.

An initial report that said only RM would be performing. In a lengthy profile on Lil Nas X published yesterday by Variety, sources suggested that the BTS singer, producer and rapper would take part in an “Old Town Road” showing, but that hadn’t been confirmed by the Recording Academy. Now, the entire band has been included, which is much, much more thrilling for all involved, especially for BTS’s Army.

BTS will make history as the first K-pop group to perform at the Grammys.

While fans were hoping they’d attend the 2020 ceremony as nominees, this is still an incredible leap forward when it comes to Korean acts being considered by the American music industry.

Get ready for a K-country-hip-pop crossover.

This won’t be the first time all these genres mash up though. In July 2019, a remix of Nas’ “Old Town Road” was released that featured the Korean group’s rapper, RM, retitled “Seoul Town Road,” a mashup that’s likely to fit into their Grammys collaboration.

BTS and Lil Nas won’t be the only ones at the “Old Town” party.

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😉

A post shared by Lil Nas X (@lilnasx) on

The Grammys have other eclectic guests slated to join in for the number as well. Country star Billy Ray Cyruswill, of course, reprise the duet part that took the tune into overdrive early in its chart life. Diplo’s also going to be on stage.

The EDM star did his own “Old Town Road” remix.

Diplo invited Lil Nas X onto his stage last May at the Stagecoach Festival for the young rapper’s first live appearance, so it’s only natural that Lil Nas would make the DJ and producer a part of his show. And lastly, to really mix it up back in the direction of country, young yodeler Mason Ramsey is also joining the chart-topping artists on stage.

With six nominations in total, including Album of the Year and Record of the Year, Lil Nas X is one of the artists with the most nominations.

Lil Nas is tied with the most nominations with Billie Eilish. The two are surpassed only by Lizzo, so it makes sense that he’d want to make his performance extra special by including all of the musicians that helped make his hit even more popular. 

The star-studded performance was planned to honor the song’s many remixes

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2020 🧞‍♂️🧞‍♂️🧞‍♂️

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The segment has been called “Old Town Road All-Stars,” and in it, we’ll see the six-time nominee deliver a thrilling show of his 19-week No. 1.

According to Forbes, inIncluding BTS in its telecast is sure to help the Grammys improve ratings.

The award show’s ratings have been slipping for years. An issue that many award ceremonies have faced over the past decade. Which is why adding the most popular and beloved band in the world is sure to get plenty of people to turn on their TVs who otherwise probably would not have.

BTS and Lil Nas will be joining an incredible lineup of previously-announced performers, such as Billie Eilish, Lizzo, Ariana Grande, Jonas Brothers, Camila Cabello, and many, many more. The Grammys will air live on CBS this Sunday, January 26 at 8 PM EST.

How ‘Guantanamera’ Sung By Celia Cruz Helped Me To Better Understand My Abuelo’s Exile From Cuba

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How ‘Guantanamera’ Sung By Celia Cruz Helped Me To Better Understand My Abuelo’s Exile From Cuba

credit: Cuban passport image belonging to writer's mother / Photograph provided by Alexandria Portée / Flower design by Canva.com

My mother was six when she fled to the United States from Cuba with my abuela and her two siblings. After reuniting with my abuelo who fought against Fidel Castro in the Bay of Pigs War, they moved to Chicago, where they built a life for themselves completely from scratch, still gripping tenderly onto the heritage and cultures that connected them to families and friends back at home. In their efforts to keep and sustain our family’s Cuban heritage, my abuelos and my mother taught me and my siblings to love and cherish the many different and beautiful contributions that their island country has given to the world: cuisine, cafecito, Bacardí, music, and José Marti.

Naturally, as any proud Cuban-American, I have benevolently held onto all of these as my own personal tokens from an island I have never visited or known. I’m quick to boast about each of them as if they were conjured up by my own mother’s hard work in the kitchen. Still, none have Cuba’s treasures have made me feel quite so intimately linked to my family’s first home like the beloved Cuban song “Guantanamera.”

Like my abuelos and my mother’s stories of Cuba, “Guantanamera” is a song that has grown and adapted through its journey. I have heard the story of my abuelos’ wedding day more than a hundred times; the tale of how my mother cried when kids at her school called my abuelo —a Bay of Pigs prisoner who singlehandedly saved hundreds of lives after being captured by Castro — a criminal; the account of my abuela wringing her hands as she debated enrolling her children in Operation Peter Pan and how she later boarded a cargo ship holding onto only her children and memories of her life to meet my abuelo in the United States. Each anecdote is the same but is always slightly altered in some way depending on the storyteller’s mood and time that I plead for their retelling. Some days they’re drawn out, told with prideful smiles, but often they’re said quickly with an ache to forget the portal of bittersweet memories my questions have sent them through. So similarly goes the many different versions of “Guantanamera.”

It is widely accepted that the original lyrics of the song, considered to be Cuba’s unofficial anthem, were romantic in nature, but over time, the song has been interpreted as a political ode. Brought from the rural regions of the island and to airwaves by Cuban radio host Joseíto Fernández in the 1920s, the song quickly caught on among fans. Fernández performed it regularly on his show and, in the tradition of most folk music, improvised and changed verses based on the week’s events. Some days he sang about politics, and other days he purred lyrics that harped about azucar and its rising costs. Still, the song’s opening lines and chorus, “Guantanamera, guajira Guantanamera / Guantanamera, guajira Guantanamera,” always remained the same.

Cuban composer Julián Orbón adapted the “official” lyrics to the song using verses from Cuban freedom fighter José Martí’s poetry collection “Versos Sencillos.” Orbón’s version, the one most commonly recorded by music artists, used Marti’s lines about a “sincere man” who was from “where the palm trees grow (Yo soy un hombre sincero/ De donde crece la palma).

This adaptation, combined with other lyrics from Martí’s poems that express compassion for Cuba’s poor, is ultimately what turned “Guantanamera” into the country’s most recognized patriotic anthem. In the U.S. and internationally, the song has been interpreted and adopted as a rally for peace (in 2004, for instance, the Swedish government flipped it into an offbeat rap song to promote recycling) and performed by a wide range of artists. In 1966, the Sandpipers did a version that became an international hit, and in the years that followed, singers like Jimmy Buffett, Pitbull and even the Fugees recorded their own editions. My personal favorite is the one sung by Cuban-born singer Celía Cruz on her album “Bravo” in 1967.

My Spanish has never quite allowed me to communicate with my abuelo in his native language fluently, but “Guantanamera” has let me do so.

Most conversations with my abuelo come with a melding of his so-so English and my mediocre Spanish. Together, we’re able to find a common ground that allows us to make each other laugh, exchange “te quiero mucho muchos” and grants me the ability to learn about the family and life he was forced to leave behind. In worse case scenarios, my abuela, a retired Spanish teacher, or my mother will intervene to translate. But when it comes to “Guantanamera,” abuelo and I have never needed assistance. Together, we’ve sung the song, our separately known variants, not always familiar with the lines each other sings but always well aware that in those moments they fill us with a deep love for each other and the versions of Cuba we both know.

Recently, during a visit with my abuelos, we sat together in their snug living room listening to Celía Cruz’s illustrious take of “Guantanamera” as her throaty voice sang over flute trills and drums. Old pictures of primos and tias looked down at us from the walls as we first listened carefully to the lyrics.

There’s no knowing what will prompt one of the Cubans in my family to break out into song. My most playful tía will chorus a line to tell stories; my brother does it at the dinner table even though he knows he’ll be told it’s rude, and my mother does it when she wants you to be in a better mood. Like them, my abuelos and I couldn’t help ourselves as Celía’s lively low-range voice started the chorus. Not against the charms of “Guantanamera.” Soon enough, abuela, abuelo and I were all singing the different Spanish versions of the song we hold dear.

Truthfully, if ever there was a moment that I thought I could burst from feeling so whole, it was sitting there in their living room, watching as the burden of my abuelo’s struggles of exile, always easy to decipher in his quietly distracted stares, seemed almost completely forgotten as he sang with pure delight.

“Guantanamera” is a song that has had a rhythmic presence in my life for as long as I can remember.

Like the smell of aftershave on my abuelo’s worn blue guayabera and the cheekiness of my abuela’s wily grin, I could make out that song anywhere, even despite the many versions it holds. Including the one I’ve heard my abuelo hum while brushing his teeth and the one my mother tries to keep in tune to while singing along to Cruz as she drives in the car. Like the different impressions of the song, Cuba is a country that has been strongly woven into our different narratives. Still, while my relationship and experience with Cuba will never tug on the strings of my heart with the same pang as it does on my abuelos or my mother, “Guantanamera” reminds me that the island is much more of a home than a foreign place that my family’s exile might try to make me believe.