Selena Gomez took her sweet time before recording her debut album. After all, she had her hands full starring in her hit Disney Channel series “Wizards of Waverley Place,” not to mention appearing in a string of movies and other TV shows. Still, music had been a core passion of hers going back to childhood. A child no more, Selena comes on strong with her Hollywood Records premiere CD, “Kiss & Tell.” It is nothing less than the emancipation proclamation of a young artist with a lot to say.
She didn’t get there alone. Producer Ted Bruner, along with songwriters Gina Schock , Tim James & Antonina Armato and Selena’s band, The Scene, wrap her vocals with fire and ferocity. “Because it is my first record I wanted it to be amazing,” Selena says. “I think of this record as a huge learning journey. I wanted to find my sound and see where I wanted to go musically.”
On that journey, she clearly found her musical home base. And it rocks. Selena’s blazing rock ‘n’ roll chops may surprise fans, especially on songs like “Kiss & Tell,” with its battalion of drums, tight harmonies and Jane’s Addiction-like lead guitar work. Says Selena with a laugh, “Basically this is my harsh song, but in a good way.”
Selena decided to make the album “passionate, fun and empowering,’ as she puts it. Thus, for the most part the 17-year-old singer bypasses the puppy love and goes straight to a righteous “guys are dogs” attitude. Songs like “Falling Down” and “I Don’t Miss You At All” simmer with feminine scorn, while the pop gem “I Won’t Apologize” (which Selena co-wrote) takes a stand for self-affirmation. “Girls my age tend to change themselves for others,” Selena says. “Whether it’s a boyfriend or trying to fit in with the ‘cool kids,’ this song says you’re not going to apologize for who you are.”
Selena tackles ballads on the wistful “The Way I Loved You” and “I Promise You,” the latter a love song steeped in unadorned romance. She shakes off the sentimentality in the sophisticated put-down rocker “Stop and Erase,” “I Got U,” “Crush” and “As a Blond,” perhaps the edgiest song yet from the legally brunette Selena. “Every girl goes through a break-up at some point,” she says, “and they never feel good. I wanted to make sure that the songs about heartbreak were all empowering rather than sad. When I perform these songs I don’t feel I am dwelling on pain.”
She ends the album with a full-circle moment, re-recording “Tell Me Something I Don’t Know,” an upbeat hip-hop-flavored track she first cut several years ago and now revisits with a more seasoned point of view. “I thought it would be a fun to redo the song and add some cool techno beats,” says the ever-adventurous Selena, who today stands at the brink of a thrilling new phase of her career.
Born July 22, 1992 in Dallas, Texas, Selena started acting at age seven when she landed a role in the popular television series “Barney & Friends,” on which was a regular for two seasons. There she met her best friend, actress/singer and fellow Hollywood Records recording artist Demi Lovato. Their connection has endured. “I was very lucky to have had the opportunity to go through so much with Demi,” says Selena. “We have known each other for so long now that we’re more like sisters.”
She landed her first feature film role in 2003, when she was cast in the sci-fi action adventure film “Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over.” Selena went on to lend her voice to “Horton Hears a Who!” in 2008, and made guest appearances on “Hannah Montana” and “The Suite Life of Zack & Cody.”
But she made her greatest impact as an actress starring as girl wizard Alex Russo in the hit Disney Channel series “Wizards of Waverly Place,” which premiered in 2007. For their work on the show, Selena and her cast mates won a 2009 Emmy Award for Outstanding Children’s Program. “I don’t think I’m too much like Alex,” Selena says. “She gets into a lot of trouble, and my parents would never let that happen. Overall she’s confident and doesn’t let anyone negative get in her way, which is a good quality to have.”
Her busy schedule in front of the camera did nothing to dampen her musical dreams. Selena recorded three songs for the “Wizards of Waverly Place The Movie” soundtrack, as well as tracks for “101 Dalmatians,” “Another Cinderella Story” and “Tinker Bell.” But she had broader ambitions. “I have always loved music and write all the time, but to make a career out of it seemed scary,” she says. “I focused more on acting at one point, which blessed me with my show and other projects I had the honor of working on. Now I’m putting more into my music.”
With a new album, a hit show and more movies on the horizon, it’s a wonder Selena has time left for anything else. But she makes time to give something back. She has volunteered for St Jude’s Hospital for children, Disney’s Friends for Change and she was twice named youth ambassador for UNICEF, a role that recently took her on a fact-finding trip to Africa. It all served to expand her perspective on life. “I am constantly growing and changing,” she says, “but I like to think my morals about family and friendships haven’t changed.”
She’s not done dreaming. In the years ahead, Selena plans to push her career to greater heights, while always remembering her fans and the faith they place in her. Summing up her goals, Selena says: “I want to inspire others, help and make an impact.” With “Kiss & Tell,” she won’t have long to wait.