Ten years after first teasing her fans with news of an upcoming Spanish album, Selena Gomez has finally delivered.
Revelación, released March 12, is the singer’s first Spanish-language EP, featuring seven reggaetón and R&B-influenced tracks with Gomez’s signature hushed, silky vocals. It’s not the first time Gomez has recorded in Spanish—she’s released Spanish versions of her songs “Who Says” and “A Year Without Rain,” as well as a remixed cover of the hit “Bidi Bidi Bom Bom,” by Selena Quintanilla, Gomez’s namesake, a decade ago.
More recently, Gomez leaned back into her Latina roots with two releases: a collaboration with Cardi B and Ozuna in the chart-topping hit “Taki Taki” (2018), and “I Can’t Get Enough” (2019), with Puerto Rican producer Tainy (who also serves as a producer on two of Revelación’s songs).
Gomez was fluent in Spanish as a child growing up in the Dallas suburb of Grand Prairie, though her grasp of the language faded as she got older. Between years of touring and acting, Gomez has said, she had to repeatedly delay her plans to focus on a Spanish-language release. It was something she wanted to get right, and that would take time.
The parallels to her namesake, Selena Quintanilla, aren’t hard to find. Quintanilla embraced both sides of her Mexican American identity. She learned Spanish phonetically to perform her songs, and often resorted to Spanglish when she couldn’t remember the right words in an interview. Neither Quintanilla nor Gomez has a simple, straightforward relationship to her heritage, and that’s what has made it so easy for their fans to relate to them.
Like the Tejano superstar, Gomez isn’t fluent. So when it came to singing in Spanish, she wanted to make sure that her pronunciation was authentic. With most of her work on hold during the pandemic, she was able to meet with a translator and a vocal coach. Gomez wasn’t looking to perform the textbook-perfect Spanish she was taught as a child—she wanted to nail the current slang and colloquialisms. Her practice has paid off.
Throughout the EP, Gomez’s breathy, sensual vocals perfectly complement the synth drumbeats and horns. Though she might be relatively new to Latin music, you wouldn’t know it from these songs.
The message of the opening track, “De Una Vez,” would have been right at home on her 2020 album Rare, which showcased her strength in moments of raw vulnerability. By contrast, the rest of Revelación feels like a lush, dance-infused fantasy that features Gomez brimming with confidence and bravado.
“De Una Vez” is the slowest song on the EP, with a dreamy, echoing backing track that lets the story she’s telling breathe: she wasn’t just brokenhearted after this breakup, she also was reborn. As with the rest of Revelación, Gomez leans into the melodramatic imagery of Spanish music when she sings, “Sé que el tiempo a tu lado cortó mis alas, pero ahora este pecho es antibalas” (“I know that my time by your side cut my wings, but now this chest is bulletproof”).
The singer has repeatedly spoken about the pressure of growing up in the spotlight, with critics and fans alike watching her every move. Until recently, it still felt like she was holding back a part of herself. That’s why it’s so fun to hear Gomez let go on the rest of the EP. On “Buscando Amor,” she loses herself in the music, giving in to a wild side that isn’t looking for love or relationships. She just wants to dance, and she wants people to see this version of her, because after all, “¿A quién no le gusta una Latina bailando reggaetón?” (“Who doesn’t like a Latina dancing to reggaetón?”)
Later, in “Adiós,” she tells off a jealous ex who says he’s over her but can’t stop calling or asking where she’s been. In response, she sings, “Quiero ir a la cama con quién me dé la gana … Si dicen por ahí, que con aquel me vi es probable que sí.” (“I want to go to bed with whoever I want … If people are saying I’ve been out with some guy, it’s probably true.”) With each song, Gomez is either fully in control or delightfully reckless.
In an interview with Rolling Stone, Gomez said singing in Spanish gave her an added layer of confidence. It’s not hard to hear the difference. Rather than belting out the lyrics, her soft, seductive voice pulls the listener in while she paints an irresistible portrait of her unapologetic alter ego. On “Vicio” and “Dámelo To’,” which features Puerto Rican rapper and singer Myke Towers, the narrator isn’t hurting or healing; instead, she’s taking risks on nighttime flings that’ll be over by the time the sun rises.
Though these songs feel deeply personal, they have a political basis too. The anti-immigrant rhetoric of the Trump administration, as well as Gomez’s work as a producer on the Netflix docuseries Living Undocumented, became a wake-up call for Gomez. Her paternal grandparents were undocumented immigrants from Monterrey, Mexico, who lived in fear of deportation for years. While Gomez never shied away from her heritage, she eventually realized that working on a Spanish-language album could allow her to reconnect with that part of her life and share relatable stories with her fans. “Maybe embracing that part of me can be a source of healing for somebody else,” she told the Los Angeles Times.
On the final track of the EP, “Selfish Love,” Gomez perfectly blends her two worlds, singing in English and Spanish about a cat-and-mouse game between herself and her lover. This record might’ve been a long time coming, but in the decade since she first announced the project, Gomez has transformed into a self-possessed woman—someone who’s no longer defined by her heartbreak, or paralyzed by the fear of what other people might think. Hearing the energy and lust for life she brings to each song, there’s no doubt that this album was worth the wait.