Four years after her "revival," Selena Gomez is back with a brand new album — and she's ready to be more honest than ever about her life and loves. On Friday, Jan. 10, the singer released her third solo studio album, and Selena Gomez's lyrics about Justin Bieber on Rare seem to signal that the singer has fully and truly moved on from the relationship that defined her teenage years.
Though not all of the tracks on her new album seem to reference her tumultuous relationship with Bieber as explicitly as Gomez' first two singles — "Lose You to Love Me" and "Look At Her Now" — much of Rare is about the singer finding herself and and her confidence in the wake of a devastating breakup. "Obviously, I've had a lot of self esteem issues in the past. I still struggle with confidence and you know, it's going to be something that I'm always working on," Gomez said of the album's title during a conversation with Spotify. "Rare made me feel incredible. That name was so important to me the moment I heard it."
The singer also added that she hopes the album and its lyrics will help to empower other women to understand how special they are, explaining, "that to me is such a special word and if there's anything I can do for women and men, it's to tell them that they're valued and that they're rare and that they're important." Rare chronicles Gomez's journey to understanding what is so special about herself — and that involves delving into what went wrong in her most famous relationship.
"Saw us gettin' older / Burnin' toast in the toaster / My ambitions were too high / Waiting up for you upstairs / Why you act like I’m not there? / Baby, right now it feels like ... you don't care" — "Rare"
The title track of the album is all about Gomez telling someone that they don't appreciate how special she is, and there are plenty of lyrics that seem to hint at the downfall of her romance with Bieber. Most notably, Gomez sings about seeing a future with her partner — and the domesticity that comes with living together — which is reminiscent of Bieber's 2015 Complex interview in which he described their relationship as a "marriage" of sorts. "I moved in with my girlfriend when I was 18," Bieber said at the time about Gomez. "Started my own life with her. It was a marriage kind of thing. Living with a girl, it was just too much at that age."
"Happiness ain't something you sit back and you wait for/ Confidence is throwing your heart through every brick wall" — "Dance Again"
"Dance Again" is all about finding happiness after heartbreak, and like in "Lose You to Love Me," Gomez explains that she needed to go through the hurt and pain of her relationship with Bieber in order to find what really makes her happy and feel the most like herself.
"It was her first real lover / His too 'til he had another / Oh, God, when she found out / Trust levels went way down / Of course she was sad/ But now she's glad she dodged a bullet" — "Look At Her Now"
Bieber was Gomez's first "real love," her first public relationship and her first long-term romance, which makes it clear that "Look At Her Now" — which she released back-to-back with "Lose You to Love Me" — is all about the singer overcoming the heartbreak of that relationship to become stronger and happier than ever.
"I saw the signs and I ignored it / Rose-colored glasses all distorted / Set fire to my purpose / And I let it burn ... We'd always go into it blindly / I needed to lose you to find me" — "Lose You to Love Me"
References to Bieber don't get more obvious than Gomez's clever name drop of his 2015 album, Purpose, which Bieber himself has said was partially inspired by their breakup. "Lose You to Love Me" underlines the main theme of Rare while also allowing the singer to say goodbye to "Jelena" for good and move on with her life and focus on herself and her own happiness.
"In two months, you replaced us / Like it was easy / Made me think I deserved it / In the thick of healing, yeah" — "Lose You to Love Me"
In the fall of 2017, shortly after Gomez revealed that she had undergone a kidney transplant as a result of complications from lupus, the singer briefly reunited with Bieber. However, the pair called it quits again for good in March 2018 and in May of that year, Bieber's now-wife Hailey revealed that she and the "Yummy" singer had reconnected. (They confirmed their engagement two months later.)
"So many wasted nights with you / I still could 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" — "People You Know"
Bieber and Gomez were together for about four years, on and off, and based on the way things ended, it's not surprising that the singer might describe some of that time as "wasted."
"Gotta chop-chop all the extra weight I've been carrying for fourteen-hundred-sixty days ... The truth is that I think I've had enough / Professionally messin' with my trust / How could I confuse that sh*t for love?" — "Cut You Off"
As Twitter user @tianasfenty pointed out in a recent post, 1460 days is the equivalent of four years — which is exactly as long as Bieber and Gomez were together. Adding to the speculation that "Cut You Off" is about Gomez washing her hands of Bieber and their relationship, the song's co-writer, Liza Owen, wrote on Instagram that it was inspired by "an assh*le boy who shall not be named." Clearly, Gomez has realized that her relationship with Bieber wasn't healthy and is ready to cut ties with her ex, for good.
Over the past few years, Gomez has overcome both physical and mental health issues, rediscovered her voice and her happiness and survived heartbreak, and the singer has used it all to inspire her newest album. Rare officially closes the book on her relationship with Bieber, and instead celebrates the start of the stronger relationship that Gomez has with herself.