This story was originally published on October 12, 2015.
Gomez spent 2016 pouring herself into her new album, Revival, which was released October 9 and has been met with warm reviews. It's only her second solo record, her first since severing ties with Disney (her employer since age 7) and all of its marionette trappings. It's a good album: confessional, catchy, provocative. And, it's poised to transform Gomez from that girl who's a former child star and has dated a couple of famous guys into a grown-up pop star who dares you not to take her seriously.
To record the album she wanted, on her terms, Gomez made other major changes beyond breaking up with Disney. She fired her longtime manager (her mom, as it happens), hired new management, and signed a recording contract with Interscope. And, along the way, she ended her relationship with Bieber.
“The year wasn't just me trying to transition in my career — it was my whole life. I had to reconfigure everything,” Gomez says, sitting up tall and looking me in the eye. “That was a little uncomfortable and very scary. I didn't have anything to fall back on.” Not that she felt like she had a choice. “At the same time, the public perception of me was unfair and very invasive. I was trying to figure out all my own stuff in my personal life while everybody had an opinion.” Those opinions weren’t so kind. Scan the headlines from that time, and a sad portrait of Gomez comes together: She was “desperate,” “angry,” “heartbroken,” “insecure” — a “girl” who just couldn’t get her shit together.