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"Sober"
Song by Selena Gomez from the album Revival
Format Digital download
Recorded
Genre
Length 3:14
Label
Writer(s)
Producer(s)

"Sober" is a song by American singer Selena Gomez from her second solo studio album, Revival (2015), included as the fifth track on the record. It was written by Chloe Angelides, Jacob Kasher Hindlin, Julia Michaels, Tor Hermansen, and Mikkel Eriksen, with production coming from Norwegian duo StarGate, while frequent collaborator Dreamlab handled the vocal production.

Background[edit]

For the first time in her career, Gomez was given full creative control following her signing with Interscope Records.

Sources[edit]

1) http://time.com/4053719/selena-gomez-revival-interview/ (background and recording):

  • "Gomez has also stepped in the role of executive producer for the album, taking on unprecedented levels of creative control and wracking up more songwriting credits than ever."
  • "I had to really discover what was going to work for me because there were times in my career where I sang things that just weren’t me and weren’t for me. You can hear it in my voice. You can hear it when it’s inauthentic. This whole record is extremely intimate. I did executive produce it. I wanted to know that every single song meant the world to me, whether I wrote it or not. For me, I had to discover what was going to separate me. I know that I’m not the world’s greatest singer, but I do know that I have a unique tone. And I’m an actress—I love being able to translate everything I’m feeling inside through my voice and through the songs."
  • "I am a pop artist, but that was something I was so aware of. The track is important, but I needed the lyrics to be more important, and that was something I told every producer."
  • "No, and it was such a relief for me. It would be so unrealistic for me to be in pain and then release a song where I’m like, “Life is awesome and this is great!” “The Heart Wants What It Wants,” and even the music video, was therapeutic. I felt free. I felt like a huge weight was lifted off of me. That’s basically what pushed me to create Revival. It was a feeling where I was like, “This is what great music is. It’s sharing your story.” I can’t care anymore that people are going to twist my words or talk about it. Everybody said every single thing they could say about me. I can’t let that affect me from making the music I want to make, even if it is personal."
  • "There was a lot of questioning myself because it is the first time I was heavily involved. The hardest thing is figuring out how to say it, figuring out how to talk about things without it being so over the top. “Sober” is one of my favorite songs, but it’s not even about one specific person. “Sober” came from me and Chloe [Angelides], one of the writers, when we were sitting in a hall and talking about social awkwardness. I would hang out with people and they would drink and they’re so fun, then the next day it would be weird. I actually left that night and Chloe ended up writing “Sober.” There were moments like that, little gems. It wasn’t too difficult, it was just, “How am I going to say it elegantly and in a way that’s right for me?”"
  • "I wanted it to feel very personal. I love albums, I really do. I know they don’t sell or whatever, but Christina Aguilera’s Stripped got me through so much of my life and told such a story. That whole album was her Revival. Now, I’m in the place of my life where I released an album at 16—nobody’s going to relate [to that]. They’re going to be like, “Great, what are you singing about?” Because of how much my life was exposed, I almost had to utilize that for this record. People can’t say, “You don’t know what you’re talking about. You haven’t been through this.” It’s like, you’ve all grown up with me at this point!"

Recording[edit]

Gomez recorded part of "Sober" with Mike Anderson in London, England.

Serving as the track's executive producers, Tim Blacksmith and Danny D enlisted Tor Hermansen and Mikkel Eriksen, also known as the Norwegian duo StarGate, to write and produce "Sober" for Revival along with "Same Old Love" and "Cologne". Inspired by a discussion with Gomez late at night, American recording artist Chloe Angelides wrote the lyrics and melody to the song with Hermansen and Eriksen, and presented it to her the next day. After being written, "Sober" was slightly modified by frequent collaborators Jacob Kasher Hindlin and Julia Michaels. Gomez worked with Eriksen and Miles Walker to record the song at Westlake Studios in Los Angeles, California, as well as with Mike Anderson at The Hide Out Studios in London, England. Leah Haywood provided additional background vocals. Gomez's vocals were produced by American production team Dreamlab at Westlake, and the engineering was handled by Rob Ellmore with assistance from Daniela Rivera. In it's final stages, "Sober" was mixed by Phil Tan at Ninja Club Studios in Atlanta, Georgia.[1]

Composition[edit]

"Sober" is a midtempo synthpop, electro and pop power ballad, which incorporates elements of R&B into its production.[2][3][4][5] The "booming" and "emotive" track features a big,[6] 1980's-influenced song structure and its "studded" and "shimmering" production consists of "chunky" "insistent" percussive beats,[3][7][8][9] hand-claps, dark 80's-influenced synthesizers,[10] "catchy" "shimmering" vocal melodies,[8][9] "insistent" drums, "slamming" synth stabs, and "girlie" yelps.[11][12] The song has been compared to the works of Tinashe and Lana Del Rey by Vulture writer Lindsay Zoladz,[5] while Ali Szubiak of Popcrush remarked that "Sober" "takes a page out of Taylor Swift’s book", and Mike Wass of Idolator compared the song with other "relatable-pop" artists such as Alessia Cara and Lorde.[13] Katherine St. Asaph of Time magazine noted that "Sober" was "disarmingly peppy" and set to "the sort of story you’d find in an Evanescence single", while Ali Szubiak of Popcrush also called the songs sound "deceptively upbeat" and noted that Gomez "emotes with a newfound ease", allowing her to showcase her vulnerability.[14][11]

Composition sources[edit]

  • contains some of the best vocals Selena has to offer this time around. claims ‘Sober’ is about hanging out with girls that she would party with and be all BFF that night, yet be nothing but strangers in the morning. can’t help but think there’s some hints of Justin Bieber in this track." (http://www.popologynow.com/2015/10/14/album-review-selena-gomez-revival/)
  • vocals really shine, there’s a vulnerability that comes through on “Sober” that makes it hard to believe the track is about nothing more than an awkward morning after." (http://popcrush.com/best-songs-we-heard-this-week-selena-gomez-rebecca-fiona-jon-mclaughlin-more/)
  • "Even on the ostensibly autobiographical “Sober” — a great, anti-climactic track whose verse melody writes a check the chorus can’t cash — she sings, “Guess I don’t know where to draw the line,” and the sentiment scans as general: about her ex, about the cameras, about the many succubi that visit a child star’s life. in other hands, it would sound petulant or angry, but Gomez sounds simultaneously winsome, coy and resigned, and it works." (http://www.spin.com/2015/10/review-selena-gomez-revival/)
  • "The track landed online today (October 7), just two days ahead of the album’s official release date. While Selena’s last two singles were oozing with sex appeal and a newfound sense of confidence, “Sober” takes it a touch more intimate without sacrificing the fun." (http://popcrush.com/selena-gomez-sober-listen/)
  • "The stewing and remorseful “Sober” didn’t stand a chance. All the slamming synths slabs and girlie yelpsYes check.svg Done in the world couldn’t hope match the energy or originality of “Same Old Love”. It’s a credit to Selena’s ability to carry a chorus and play it straight that the track succeeds in adding a sense of narrative depth to the LP as a whole. The arrangement might be predictable, but the lyrics are genuinely astute: “You don’t know how to love me when your sober, when the bottle’s done you pull me closer”. These despairing lines add a sorrowful context to “Good For You” and a sense of triumph to the freedom and independence of “Me & The Rhythm”." (http://411mania.com/music/selena-gomez-revival-review/)
  • "This vulnerability and the sense of empowerment (and revival) all feeds into what to these ears must be the album’s center-piece; the expected ‘Is it about Bieber?’ banger is called ‘Sober’ and its an absolute gem; stunningly darkYes check.svg Done (‘You don’t know how to love me when you’re sober’ is the chorus) and yet at the same time uplifting - think Sia’s ‘Chandelier’ but with more hand-claps and 80s synthesisersYes check.svg Done - it will probably end up being the best song Selena will ever put her name to and it fleshes out the album and its themes more clearly and coherently than you could ever have imagined." (http://www.redbrick.me/music/album-review-selena-gomez-revival/)
  • "Sober allows Gomez to deliver one of her best vocals on the record" (http://www.entertainment-focus.com/music-section/music-reviews/albums/selena-gomez-revival-album-review/)

Critical reception[edit]

Credits and personnel[edit]

Recording
Personnel

Credits adapted from the liner notes of Prism, Capitol Records.[1]

Sources[edit]

References[edit]