Bad Liar

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"Bad Liar"
A portrait of Gomez laying on a batch of rocks in a periwinkle babydoll dress embroidered with flowers and butterflies. The song's title is written in red lipstick on her one thigh.
Single by Selena Gomez
ReleasedMay 18, 2017 (2017-05-18)
FormatDigital download
Recorded2016
GenrePop rock
Length3:34
LabelInterscope
Songwriter(s)
Producer(s)Ian Kirkpatrick
Selena Gomez singles chronology
"It Ain't Me"
(2017)
"Bad Liar"
(2017)
"Fetish"
(2017)
Music video
"Bad Liar" on YouTube

"Bad Liar" is a song by American singer Selena Gomez. She co-wrote the song with long-time collaborators Julia Michaels and Justin Tranter, and was produced by Ian Kirkpatrick. The track samples the bassline from Talking Heads' 1977 single "Psycho Killer", written by David Byrne, Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth. A vertical music video accompanied the release, becoming the first music video to premiere on Spotify, where it was made available exclusively. The song's official music video directed by Jesse Peretz, was released on June 14, 2017 on Gomez's Vevo channel on YouTube, in which she plays four characters.

The song received universal critical acclaim and was listed as the best song of 2017 by Billboard.[1] Critics noted the mid-tempo production for its non-traditional structure in Gomez's catalogue.[2] David Byrne, Talking Heads vocalist, also complimented the song.[3] Commercially, the song reached the top 20 in Australia, Canada, the Czech Republic, Finland, Hungary, Lebanon, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Slovakia and the United States; as well as the top 40 in Austria, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Norway, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

Writing and development[edit]

"Bad Liar" was written by Selena Gomez, Julia Michaels, Justin Tranter, and was produced by Ian Kirkpatrick.[4] Its initial inspiration came from the American band Talking Heads of whom Gomez and Michaels are fans. During a session with Gomez and Tranter, Michaels suggested that they should write a song over the bassline of the band's 1977 single "Psycho Killer", specifically interpolating band member Tina Weymouth's riff. The minimal bassline from the song was used as a starting point for "Bad Liar" from which its topline melody developed. In an interview for Variety magazine, Tranter recalled that it was "one of those magical moments where the song just comes together very quickly and felt so good."[5] Warner/Chappell Music executive Greg Sowder played "Bad Liar" to Talking Heads member David Byrne who liked the track and Gomez's vocal performance, and along with Weymouth and Chris Frantz granted permission for it to sample "Psycho Killer".[5][6]

Composition and lyrical interpretation[edit]

"Bad Liar", described as a "slow-build pop rock tune",[7] begins with a steady beat built around rhythm and the jagged bassline from "Psycho Killer".[8][9] The production is otherwise sparse and textured,[10] featuring percussive snaps and handclaps.[11] Unlike with Gomez's previous single "It Ain't Me" which made use of reverberation and pitch contouring, her voice is restrained and emphasized on "Bad Liar" by being mixed to limit and contain it.[12][13] Her vocals are multitracked to emphasize urgency.[11] With several lines in the song being acrostic and syllable-reliant, Gomez uses a spoken-sung cadence.[8][12] The track is written in verse–chorus form, although it features both a pre-chorus and a post-chorus.[14]

The lyrics find Gomez narrating events of avoiding to admit her feelings for a new love interest, but later conceding that the difficulty of it makes her a "Bad Liar".[5][8] Upon release, "Bad Liar" was misinterpreted as a break-up song, prompting co-writer Justin Tranter to explain in a post on Twitter, "You got some of the lyrics wrong, and it's actually about trying to hide magic feelings for someone new, but not being able to."[15]

Release and artwork[edit]

Gomez first teased the single's release on Twitter on May 3, 2017, sharing a link to her website where fans could sign up for updates though a mailing list. On May 5, 2017, a countdown to the release was launched on the website.[16] "Bad Liar" was made available to be pre-saved on Spotify on May 16, 2017.[17] The song's official lyrics were premiered on lyrics website Genius the following day.[18] The singer also shared a short snippet of "Bad Liar" which received over 4.4 million views on Instagram in one day.[19] The single was released to digital and streaming outlets at midnight EST on May 18, 2017.[20][21]

Gomez worked with Canadian photographer Petra Collins for the single's promotional artwork.[22] On May 11, 2017, the singer began sharing a series of images on social media featuring the song's title and lyrics written in lipstick across a bathroom mirror.[23] The following day, Gomez posted the cover art for "Bad Liar" on Twitter. It features the song's title written in red lipstick across Gomez's one thigh as she lies on a bed of rocks in a periwinkle babydoll embroidered with flowers and butterflies.[24][25] Maria Ward of Vogue magazine named Gomez's babydoll "the look of the summer", complimenting its embroidery and "easy, breezy style".[25] An alternative cover art was shared by the singer on Instagram on May 17, 2017, showing her lying down wearing a small gauze bandage, and a yellow fall-risk hospital wristband given to patients who are at risk of falling due to lack of balance and weak muscles. According to Collins, the image was shot straight after Gomez came from hospital for a lupus treatment.[22][26][27] Alex Frank of Pitchfork suggested that it referenced tabloid reaction to the singer's time in rehabilitation.[9] Alex Kazemi of V magazine found the artwork powerful and vulnerable, regarding it as the most controversial imagery of a female singer since Fiona Apple's music video for "Criminal" (1997).[27]

Critical reception[edit]

""Bad Liar" may have unlocked a new level of appreciation for Gomez, from those standing on the outside of her millions of fans and (sometimes) objectively highlighting her weaknesses. The single's avalanche of good press feels like a turning point in Gomez’s artistic career."

Billboard's Jason Lipshutz.[2]

"Bad Liar" has received almost unanimous acclaim from critics, some of whom called it Gomez's best track to date.[2] Upon release, "Bad Liar" featured as Pitchfork's "Best New Track" with Alex Frank deeming it as "a victory for an uncomplicated pop star who makes uncomplicated pop music, and a fizzy fun track that will sound as good all summer".[9] In his review for Rolling Stone, Elias Leight viewed the song as understated, clever and streamlined.[11] Winston Cook-Wilson of Spin magazine found Gomez's vocals pristine and the track "charmingly weird", calling its lyrics and sample usage "harebrained but ultimately brilliant". He appreciated "Bad Liar" for eschewing contemporary radio trends, concluding that it "mostly just sounds like itself, and there's no higher compliment to pay it."[12] Writing for Entertainment Weekly, Nolan Feeney opined that Gomez "found her lane, and she's racing full speed ahead to some of the most unexpected pop music of the year."[28]

Jon Caramanica of The New York Times regarded the song among the most signature of Gomez's career, describing it as "deceptively original" and "determinedly anti-glossy, as if early DFA Records had tried to reverse engineer a pop song." Caramanica complimented Gomez's singing technique, writing that she "sings sweetly and with clever approaches to rhythm. She doesn't have much power in her voice, but she makes up for that with smart inflections."[29] Joe Lynch of Billboard magazine named it "one of the best and most refreshing pop songs of 2017 so far" and "an addictive instant classic unlike anything else on the radio."[30] Raisa Bruner of Time wrote the song was a "dramatic departure from her previous work" and "a surprisingly subtle pop song that builds effectively to hit status."[31]

Year-end lists[edit]

Many music publications included "Bad Liar" on their lists of best songs of 2017.

Publication Rank Ref.
Billboard
1
Entertainment Weekly
10
Esquire N/A
Fact
35
The Fader
14
The Guardian
4
NME
10
Noisey
31
NPR
75
Pitchfork
48
Popjustice
24
PopMatters
18
Rolling Stone
12
Spin
25
Time
8
The Washington Post
5

Music videos[edit]

Spotify video[edit]

A music video premiered on Spotify's mobile app on May 18, 2017. It was shot in November 2016 after Gomez went back from her treatment and it was the first video to premiere as a Spotify exclusive.[13][48] The low fidelity video features Gomez wearing the same fall-risk wristband from the single's alternative cover art.[8] She is shown writhing on a bed in a pink negligee with a white ribbon binding her hands.[25][49]

Official video[edit]

Development and conception[edit]

The official video was shot by director Jesse Peretz, who hadn't directed a music video since the Foo Fighters' 2007 single "Long Road to Ruin".[50][51] It was produced by Black Dog Films and Lighthouse Management+Media.[52] On June 12, 2017, Gomez announced through her social media that the second and official music video for the song would be released on June 14, 2017, posting three movie posters in different colors.[50] Mike Wass from Idolator noted that since the posters shows "Selena Gomez" as the main star three times, he expected "her to play multiple characters or simply be the only person in it".[50] On June 14, 2017, the music video of the song was uploaded to YouTube.[53] Speaking about the video to Billboard, Kari Perker (who work in the video as costume designer) said:

For Selena’s main character, we wanted to make her like a cool-but-sweet kid that didn’t really fit in. For the mom, I wanted to do something more extreme -- I wanted her to be more put-together, more of a worldly woman. For the gym teacher -- Farrah Fawcett was our inspiration for that character. She was just so iconic and so beautiful at the time; everyone wanted to be like her. And finally, for the male figure, that was really fun; especially finding something that would actually fit Selena because she’s so tiny.[54]

Synopsis[edit]

During the video Gomez played four different characters, a blonde gym coach, a school girl, a male teacher (also the schoolgirl's father), and the girl's mother.[55]

The music video is set in 1978 and follows Gomez portraying "a shy high schooler, a gym coach with a Farrah Fawcett-inspired coif, a bespectacled male teacher, and a mom, all of whom are interconnected in unexpected ways."[56] It commences with a teenage-like Gomez riding a bike to school. There, she moves separately from the rest of students, who gossip about her in the hall. In class, she sees two of her teachers, an attractive blonde woman gym teacher, and a grown-up man with big glasses (both portrayed by Gomez), flirting outside, and later, on the stairs and in the gym class. When the school day is done, the wife of the male teacher (also portrayed by Gomez) arrives, impatient to pick him up. Once they get home for dinner, the wife looks at him accusingly. The two glare at each other as teenage-like Gomez enters the house, revealing that she's their daughter. She goes straight to her room, where she dances to the rhythm of the song's last refrain, but as soon as she hears her mother coming, she pretends to sleep until her mother leaves. In the last shot of the video, the daughter looks at a photograph of the female gym teacher smiling, revealing that she secretly has feelings for her.

Reception[edit]

Mike Wass of Idolator called it "a breath of fresh air at a time when the hot trend in music videos is dying tragically" and that he was "glad to see Selena really go for it visually," saying it's "her biggest production since the Stars Dance era when "Come & Get It" and "Slow Down" took her to exotic locations."[57] Alyssa Bailey of Elle praised Gomez's acting, saying that "Gomez may not be back to acting quite yet, but this mini-movie/music video situation definitely makes you want more".,[58] while LA Times's Emily Mae Czachor praised the video visuals "With a directorial vision by Lemonheads bassist (and, more recently, TV director) Jesse Peretz, the video fuses a retro '70s aesthetic (Farrah Fawcett wigs and all) with an eerie, seductive atmosphere."

Sam Reed of The Hollywood Reporter said, "Regardless, all of this means that the pop star had the opportunity to get dolled up in the most incredible costumes and makeup, from a feathered Farrah Fawcett-style wig and gym shorts to a perfectly coiffed bouffant, to a stache that would make even Nick Offerman crack a smile.[59] In a more mixed analysis by Vanity Fair, Erika Harwood said: "Unfortunately, this leaves us with more questions than answers about the very plot-heavy video. Is this man the principal or a teacher? Is he the student's step-dad or biological dad? Is he cheating on his wife with the gym teacher? [...] There are no obvious answers to these questions, except that this music video could have cut a character."[60] The music video achieved over 12 million views in its first 24 hours.[61]

Charts[edit]

Certifications[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/Sales
Australia (ARIA)[98] Platinum 70,000^
Canada (Music Canada)[99] Platinum 80,000^
Italy (FIMI)[100] Gold 25,000double-dagger
United Kingdom (BPI)[101] Silver 200,000double-dagger
United States (RIAA)[102] Platinum 1,000,000double-dagger

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone
double-daggersales+streaming figures based on certification alone

Release history[edit]

Region Date Format Version Label Ref.
Various May 18, 2017 Digital download Original Interscope [20]
United States May 23, 2017 Contemporary hit radio [103]
Italy June 23, 2017 Universal [104]
Various November 17, 2017 Digital download Grant Remix Interscope [105]

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