Selena Gomez wasn’t the first person to think of spending quarantine becoming fluent in another language; she was just the rare one to actually follow through with it. Though the Mexican-American singer has performed songs in Spanish in the past — including “Más” and a cover of her iconic namesake’s signature track, “Bidi Bidi Bom Bom” — she used her new skills to finish her first official Spanish language project, Revelación.

After the pandemic nixed any possibility of a tour for her previous album, 2020’s Rare, she pivoted, unveiling a new beauty line and an HBO Max series, Selena + Chef. Now in its second season, the show is one part cooking tutorial, two parts celebrity candor — with the former Disney star frequently chatting about what it’s like being single right now. 

Revelación follows in a similar spirit while marking a new direction for the 28-year-old pop singer. In fact, Gomez recently admitted that she sounds better in Spanish than in English, a notion that rings true on “De Una Vez.” In a lullaby-like tone, Gomez sings about gaining the strength necessary to move on after a breakup, while the delivery of complex Spanish lyrics further showcases her vocal dexterity. (Case in point: “Yo me fui para que no se te olvide/Que a una muerte como tú se revive,” which roughly translates to “I left so that you don’t forget/That after a death like yours, I can live again.”) 

Those enraptured by Gomez’s delivery of “I mean, I could, but why would I want to?” from her 2016 hit “Hands to Myself” will be drawn to “Dámelo To.” Co-written by longtime collaborator Julia Michaels, the track sees Gomez extending her sumptuous, intoxicating tone across the entirety of a song. 

But the project’s true success comes from her ability to toe the line — and not fully dip into — the Urbano Latino genre her executive producer Tainy reigns over. That’s evident on single “Baila Conmigo,” which notably starts off with the singer ceding the floor to reggaeton upstart Rauw Alejandro for a verse before she slips in, purring a seductive pre-chorus.

“Selfish Love,” the EP’s lone bilingual entry, helmed by DJ Snake, with whom Gomez collaborated on the international smash “Taki Taki,” strikes closest to the pure pop sound Gomez is known for, and helps put to rest the cynical insinuation that Revelación is her attempt to capitalize on a sound that’s inauthentic to her. 

Still, diverging from the familiar so soon after hitting a new peak is a risk, but Revelación proves that Gomez is up to the task — and a far more versatile musician than she’s been given credit for. A–

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