Selena Gomez’ 2016' and 2020' “Feel me” — details, or sometimes lack of them, make all the difference

On February 21st 2020, Selena Gomez released her song “Feel me” on official platforms — something her fans have been asking for almost 4 years, since she used to perform it live on her Revival Tour.

With the song finally being an official release, someone also uploaded its demo/original backing track on Youtube.

Although the differences between the 2016 and the 2020 version are minimal, they’re enough to highlight major changes that happened in the spare of these 4 years in the music making world.

Listen to the 2016 version and the 2020 version:

The main changes* are:

  • the presence of background vocals and echoes in the intro of the 2016 version, which the 2020 does not have;

*Fans would also notice that, when Selena used to sing this song in the concerts of the 2016 tour, the lyrics were slightly different — she would sing “Now you’re telling me you miss me” and “Our love is hard to find,” while in the 2020 version she sings “Now you’re telling me you miss it” and “And love is hard to find.” However, the lyrics in the 2016 demo are the latter.

In general, the 2016 “Feel me” is way more EDM & tropical house than the 2020 “Feel me,” which is still a dance song, but has more of an ambient house feel, a little less club-oriented, with bigger focus in Selena’s vocals.

Substantially, EDM (acronym for ‘electronic dance music’) was still doing well in 2016 (not as well as it was in the beginning of the decade 2010, but still,) and tropical house was having its biggest moment, with songs like Justin Bieber’s “Sorry” and the dance remix of Mike Posner’s “I took a pill in Ibiza” being amongst the biggest hits of the year.

But the synths we’d listen in songs like these were becoming more and more accessible, and music was no longer something only professional producers could make.

Anyone with enough passion or minimal conditions to build a home studio could release their own music, recording and mixing at home, making a beat on Fruity Loops, or buying one, and uploading the track on Youtube or Soundcloud — that’s how mumble rap, one of the biggest cultural trends of the decade, was born (it would also be called “Soundcloud rap.”)

Of course, for a humble musician or a beginner, you can only go so far with buying plugins and loops; they’re not exactly cheap. But that’s exactly what changed everything — hit songs were beginning to sound more and more raw, with a lot less going on in the production.

Although that production trend was symptomatic of a generation of bedroom studio creators (basically a modern version of the DIY — acronym for “do it yourself” — rock scene of the 1990's,) the trend started to resonate amongst the biggest names in the industry.

The #1 song in the Billboard yearly chart of 2017 was A-list pop act Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of you,” a dancehall summer anthem with stripped down instrumentals and a marimba-resembling hook that repeats itself during the entire track — carefully crafted for mainstream appeal, of course, but still sounding like something any beginner producer could make at home, with a mini launchpad.

As the years went by, and trap music would dominate the radios and streaming platforms, there was barely any other option for pop music to survive if not reaping the intimate, dry aspects of the trap & hip hop production trends.

You can see these aspects all over Selena Gomez’ 2020 album “Rare.” Formerly known for releasing dance bops, Selena is actually benefiting from these new sound aesthetics to showcase a more mature side of herself, now a 27 year old woman.

“Feel me” was supposed to be a part of “Revival,” her album released in 2016. Although still heavily dance-oriented, “Revival” started Selena’s transition to a smoother sonic identity, who now has its apex in the amazing, cohesive “Rare.”

The 2020 version of “Feel me” would still work in a club, but it’s more in tune with the mood of “Rare” — the track was released separately, more than a month after the album release, and would later be added to it.

“Rare” brings Selena Gomez exploring more of her low register, going for smoother instrumentals, and a sultrier production. There are still songs to dance along to, but the beats are nearly as heavy as they used to be, neither we hear typical EDM features such as the profusion of background vocals and echoed vocals.

This new sound fits Selena very well — indeed, “Feel me” has us feeling her even more.

Attorney (BR), and writer (of songs & content). Top Writer in Music on Medium. IP branding consultant at 3Três Consultoria e Criação (BR), Big Cool World (US).