The Meaning Behind Selena Gomez’s 2020 Comeback “Rare”

By the time Selena Gomez released her third album Rare, in 2020, five years had passed since her previous release Revival. What may seem like eons between albums in pop music, the five-year hiatus was a necessary departure for Gomez, who was taking the time to care for herself—physically and mentally.

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Following the release of Revival, Gomez went through public breakups, revealed that she was diagnosed with lupus, and underwent a kidney transplant in 2017, which was later chronicled in the 2022 documentary My Mind & Me.

Throughout Rare, which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart, Gomez also documents her struggles with mental health, which she has also been public about throughout the years. The title track is a testament to her time away and follows the story of letting go of an unrequited love.

The Meaning

“Rare” begins with a misdirected dream of what could have been and an imagined future with her partner.

You’ve been so distant from me lately

And lately
Don’t even want to call you baby

Saw us getting older
Burning 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

It feels like you don’t care
Oh, why don’t you recognize I’m so rare?

Further into “Rare” comes the realization that her partner is not pulling their own weight in the relationship.

Always there
You don’t do the same for me
That’s not fair

I don’t have it all
I’m not claiming to
But I know that I’m special
And I’ll bet there’s somebody else out there
To tell me I’m rare
To make me feel rare

Written by Gomez along with Madison Love (Ava Max’s “Sweet But Psycho” and G-Eazy & Halsey’s “Him & I”) and Brett McLoughlin (Leland)—who also co-wrote Gomez’s “Fetish,” along with Kelsea Ballerini‘s “Miss Me More” and “Youth” with Troye Sivan— the song rehashes the different phases and circles back to the fact that she can move on, and find someone who can make her feel like she’s rare.


For Gomez, the word “rare” meant something more empowering than a song or an album title. Gomez, who had the word tattooed on her neck, also launched her company Rare Beauty in 2019.

“The word [rare] has meant so much more to me than just a title of a song,” said Gomez. “We live in a time where everything is based on your looks and social media and there are so many different channels telling people what they should look like, and how they should do this, do that. And I want to represent a person that is just saying “You are who are; you’re unique and you’re rare.”

Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images for iHeart

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