Whiplash (Selena Gomez & the Scene song)
|Song by Selena Gomez & the Scene from the album When the Sun Goes Down|
|Recorded||2011; Echo Studios (Los Angeles, California)|
|Writer||Greg Kurstin, Nicole Morier, Britney Spears|
|When the Sun Goes Down track listing|
"Whiplash" is a song by American band Selena Gomez & the Scene, from their third studio album When the Sun Goes Down (2011). The song was originally written for Britney Spears; after she started working on her sixth studio album Circus (2008), Spears contacted Nicole Morier to write songs with her. Together, they wrote "Mmm Papi", "Rock Me In" and "Whiplash". The latter, which was produced by Greg Kurstin, who also helped to write the track, failed to make the album. In 2011, Selena Gomez recorded the song with her band for When the Sun Goes Down.
"Whiplash" is a dance song with influences of electro, relying heavily on the usage of synthesizers. The pre-chorus has a sing-rap section in which Gomez delivers the lyrics in a thick British accent. "Whiplash" is musically different and much more aggressive than the rest of the album, and its lyrics speak of a blossoming romance; it has been compared to the work of Spears. "Whiplash" received mixed to positive reviews. While some critics called it one of the standout tracks of When the Sun Goes Down, others dismissed its rap sections and lyrics. Selena Gomez & the Scene performed the song at shows while on the We Own the Night Tour (2011).
"Whiplash" was written and produced by Greg Kurstin, with additional writing by Nicole Morier and Britney Spears. The latter had recorded "Heaven on Earth", written by Morier and songwriting team Freescha, for her fifth studio album Blackout (2007). During an interview with On Air with Ryan Seacrest, Spears named the song her favorite from the album. When she started recording her sixth studio album Circus (2008), she contacted Morier to write songs with her. When the two were in the studio, they asked Kurstin to give them tracks. Among the songs they worked on were "Mmm Papi", "Rock Me In" and "Whiplash". Both wanted to do something that Spears had not done before. "Mmm Papi" and "Rock Me In" were included in Circus; however, "Whiplash" failed to make the cut. Morier explained, "There’s a couple songs we started that were great ideas but just incomplete. Maybe we’ll hear them with fresh ears someday and put them out, but I usually just like to start anew."
On April 11, 2011, it was reported by MTV News that "Whiplash" would be recorded by Selena Gomez & the Scene for their third studio album When the Sun Goes Down. Lead singer Selena Gomez is a Spears fan, and after Kurstin played her the track for the first time, she "fell in love with it", unaware of Spears's contribution to the song. Gomez explained, "I came and sang and saw that she had co-written it, so I was very excited. [...] It was an honor and I'm completely stoked." The song leaked online in early June 2011, several weeks prior to the album's release.
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"Whiplash" is a dance song with influences of electro. It features a heavy usage of synthesizers, which were compared to those in Christina Aguilera's "Not Myself Tonight" (2010). During the pre-chorus, there is a sing-rap section in which Gomez delivers several phrases in a thick British accent, before the pulsating chorus begins. "Whiplash" has a much more aggressive vibe than the typical teen pop sound. According to the digital sheet music published at Musicnotes.com by Universal Music Publishing Group, it is written in the key of D minor. The song runs through a shuffle beat and maintains a tempo of 138 beat per minute. Gomez's vocal range spans from the high-tone of A3 to the lower register of B♭4. It is also musically different and a departure from other songs in When the Sun Goes Down which are more straightforward pop, such as "Who Says" and "Bang Bang Bang".
Several critics compared the song to the works of Spears. James Dinh of MTV News said that "Gomez, who has gushed to us about her Spears fandom, shows off her best impersonation" in the song. While reviewing the We Own the Night Tour, Kevin C. Johnson of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch said the song "sound[s] as if it was ripped directly from Spears' catalog." Blair Kelly of musicOMH compared it to the music of Circus, and more specifically to "Womanizer" (2008). It was also compared by Tim Sendra of Allmusic to the "electro glam" sound of Goldfrapp. The lyrics of "Whiplash" speak of a blossoming romance. Gomez sings in the chorus, "Come on and take me to the other side / I'm blown away, when I look into your eyes /I'm so in love, I think I'm going to crash / And get whiplash, whiplash, whiplash."
"Whiplash" has received mixed to positive reviews from music critics. Tim Sendra of Allmusic selected it as one of the 'track picks' of When the Sun Goes Down, calling it a "stomping jam" and one of the surprises of the album. He stated that the song "adds some welcome weirdness to an otherwise straightforward record." In a positive review, Jarett Wieselman of the New York Post suggested that "Whiplash" was better than at least five songs from Spears's seventh studio album Femme Fatale (2011), saying "what I can't figure out is why in the world would [Spears] give up this hot track". Mikael Wood of Entertainment Weekly commented that "the top-shelf collaborators don't hurt — see: the grinding 'Whiplash,' co-penned by one Britney Spears." Scott Shetler of PopCrush gave the song four stars out of five, explaining that it "possesses a hook that will send people running for the dance floor", although "Gomez's vocal is pretty flat [...] but then again, this isn't the kind of song to show off any sort of vocal gymnastics."
Blair Kelly of musicOMH was divided in his review of "Whiplash", calling it one of the best uptempo tracks from the album, although dismissing its "horrendous rap sections", elaborating that "Selena Gomez should never be allowed to rap again, especially if she’s going to break into a horrific Queen's English accent midway through." Some reviews of the song were negative, with Jody Rosen of Rolling Stone stating that Gomez "brings nothing in the way of personality to her songs", adding that "the swaggering 'sex' song 'Whiplash' would be comical if it wasn't so tedious." In another broadly negative review, PopMatters writer John Bergstrom suggested that Spears did not write any songs on Femme Fatale "to avoid the embarrassment of overwrought, fake-British-accent-flaunting would-be come-ons like 'Whiplash'.
Selena Gomez & the Scene performed "Whiplash" on shows at the We Own the Night Tour (2011). The band performed the song after a medley of Britney Spears covers, including versions of "...Baby One More Time", "(You Drive Me) Crazy", "Oops!... I Did It Again", "I'm a Slave 4 U", "Toxic", "Hold It Against Me", "Till the World Ends", and "I Wanna Go". After "Whiplash", the band continued with a performance of Gomez's "Tell Me Something I Don't Know" (2008).
Credits and personnel
- Selena Gomez – lead vocals
- Greg Kurstin – songwriter, producer, audio engineering, instrumentation, audio mixing at Echo Studios in Los Angeles, California
- Nicole Morier – songwriter, background vocals
- Britney Spears – songwriter
- Jesse Shatkin – audio engineering
Credits adapted from When The Sun Goes Down album liner notes.
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