While You Weren’t Paying Attention, Selena Gomez Became A Masterful Pop Star

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Selena Gomez is only 24, but she’s already been through some sh*t. Let’s briefly recap what she’s been through in the last decade or so: After rising to fame as a pre-teen on the Disney Channel show Wizards Of Waverly Place, she released three studio albums with her band Selena Gomez & The Scene (all before she was barely eighteen), dated one of the most famous pop stars in the universe for a good chunk of that time, canceled a tour to go to rehab and receive chemotherapy to treat her lupus, an autoimmune disorder she’s openly discussed, and also talked candidly about using the “life-saving” therapy technique DBT to manage her turbulent emotions.

Most of us could only handle one or two of those things — Selena has endured all of them with singular grace. (This is the kind of backstory that prompts a girl in her mid-twenties to name her second official studio album Revival, but more on that later.) When you consider all the darkness that she’s already been through, the lightness and airiness of her two brand new singles feels like an even more clear sign of healing.

Because despite her obvious fame and commercial success, Selena Gomez hasn’t really been taken seriously as a pop star until very recently — last month Billboard pointed out her new single “Bad Liar” is her most acclaimed ever, and this year’s collaboration with Norwegian EDM producer Kygo, “It Ain’t Me,” has been similarly successful, hitting No. 12 on the chart and lingering in the Billboard Top 20 since its release in March.

Though she’s had hits before, these two indicate a shift in perception, this time around, it’s critics and tastemakers who are praising Selena, not just her core fanbase of teenage girls — word to the world’s most prescient demographic, though. She’s had plenty of commercial success before, but Gomez is entering a new echelon where she’s given her due as an artist, and putting out music that has earned her that distinction. It’s been a slow grind for her, but the shift in her career started back in 2014.

Like most good things in life, the best thing to ever happen to Selena Gomez’s music career was an ending. After years of back and forth and on-again-off-again with her headline-grabbing and fellow pop star boyfriend, Justin Bieber, Selena had finally had enough. The couple cut things off for the last time, and it was time for her to speak her piece about the relationship. For most people, the American Music Awards that year was just another yawn-worthy, B-level award show, with only a handful of meaningful moments to dissect and celebrate on social media.