Selena Gomez has not released a song in six months. The last time she did it was “The Heart Wants What it Wants,” which many people do not like but I find strangely, deeply upsetting in a way that connects, like something tunneling inside of me. This song doesn’t really tunnel, though. It’s all about surface. I wanna look good for you. Wear that dress you like. But surfaces are confusing, surfaces are inherently complicated here. Selena Gomez matches delineations of surface with assertions of an inner self: I’m in my 14 carats, I’m 14 carat / Doin’ it up like Midas. I am wearing this, I am this. I’m in my Marquise diamonds, I’m a marquise diamond. I am very tempted at this moment to embed pictures of some diamonds, just for the full effect. What a way to start a song. I’m in my 14 carats. I’m 14 carat. A song about pleasing someone that begins first and foremost with this: I’m 14 carat. I’m expensive. This song is all about the organic fighting with the inorganic, about what a treacherous thing it is to undress a girl covered in expensive jewels and find that she’s just as crystalline underneath. I’m in my Marquise diamonds, I’m a marquise diamond.
Selena Gomez is very good at breathing. That sounds strange to say but she has made an art of this, the syncopation of faux breaths in the background, the purposeful reflection of that breathing in her lyrics: “gonna […] syncopate my skin to your heart beating” and then later “gonna […] syncopate my skin to how you’re breathing.” The pulsing of surface, of skin, stretched very very thin over the vaguely inhuman, luminous core at the center of this song.
This syncopated breathing reminds me aggressively of “Slow Down,” the second single from her second-to-last album, Stars Dance: “you know I’m good with mouth-to-mouth resuscitation / Breathe me in, breathe me out.” Breathe me in, breathe me out is barely anything more than an inhale-exhale. Syncopation becomes the close affinity between song and body, I just wanna feel your body right next to mine / all night long, baby slow down the song. Despite the fact that “Slow Down” is populated with breathy gasps it sounds nothing like a body, like a human being. Electronica is supposed to be made of breath and body but instead the cool light of it turns back, reflexively; the organic and synthetic get confused here, get mixed up. A girl dressed in diamonds is not a diamond, but not not a diamond herself.
I love this song. I love the fact that this strange machine humming is supposed to be breath. The ghost in the machine of this song isn’t Selena but it is someone else’s heart beating. Skin can’t be syncopated in anything but the most physical or the most abstract sense – syncopated while you’re touching them or syncopated while you’re thinking so hard about touching them that it might as well be the same thing. Honestly, the A$AP Rocky verse in this song is entirely superfluous. I am waiting for the inevitable tumblr supercut where those 40 seconds are gone. This song would be a perfect three minutes long: sharp, a little scary, precise.