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"Kill Em With Kindness"
Kill Em With Kindness (Official Single Cover) by Selena Gomez.png
Single by Selena Gomez
from the album Revival
Released May 3, 2016
Format Digital download
Length 3:37
Selena Gomez singles chronology
"Hands to Myself"
"Kill Em with Kindness"
"We Don't Talk Anymore"
Music video
"Kill Em with Kindness" on YouTube

"Kill Em with Kindness" is a song by American singer Selena Gomez. It was was serviced to contemporary hit radio on May 3, 2016, through Interscope Records as the fourth and final single from her second studio album, Revival (2015). The song was written by Gomez with Antonina Armato, Tim James, Benny Blanco and Dave Audé. Production was handled by Armato, James, and Blanco, with the former two being credited under their stage name Rock Mafia. R3drum also contributed additional production. According to Gomez, it was conceived after she faced criticism from media outlets over her perceived weight gain during a trip to Mexico.

"Kill Em with Kindness" is a groove-driven dance and electro house track with elements of EDM and electro music. It's breezy tropical house production combines airy synths, added bells, and a whistled hook. The song, in particular it's whistle hook, received comparisons to Adam Lambert's "Ghost Town" (2015). Lyrically, the track gives advice for dealing with critics. It revolves around the theme of magnanimity, and implores the listener to choose peace over violence and revenge. "Kill Em with Kindness" garnered mostly positive reviews from music critics, who highlighted it's positive themes, sleek production, and hook, although some noted that the song lacked originality.

The accompanying music video for the song was directed by Emil Nava and released on June 6, 2016. The clip, shot in black-and-white, follows the singer doing photo shoots around a sprawling mansion, dressed only in a corset and underwear. Interspersed are shots of choreographed interpretive dancers, falling bullets, and blood-dripped flowers. The video was well received by critics, who praised it's "artful" direction and intimate feel. To promote "Kill Em with Kindness", Gomez performed the song live for several venues including the Jingle Ball Tour 2015 and 2016 We Day annual celebration, and was included as part of her Revival Tour set list. "Kill Em with Kindness" performed well internationally. It reached number one in Poland, top ten in Belgium, the Czech Republic, and Hungary, and top twenty in Canada, Finland, Latvia, Lebanon, Slovakia, and Switzerland. However in the United States, the song failed to achieve the success of previous Revival singles, peaking number 39 on the US Billboard Hot 100.


"I work hard, and anyone that you ever talk to that's worked with me knows I’m professional, kind and that I care about people. I’ve been frustrated and pissed off before, but my mom has always taught me, every single time, turn my cheek the other way. It is always the best feeling waking up the next day going, 'They gave me their worst, I gave them my best, and that's all I can do.'"

— Gomez on the inspiration behind the song.[1]

While working on the album, Selena Gomez enlisted her longtime collaborators Antonina Armato and Tim James, known as the production duo Rock Mafia.[2] They helped Gomez on the creation of six tracks on the album, including "Revival" and "Kill Em with Kindness", one of her most personal tracks that the duo produced for the album.[1] According to Gomez, one of the main inspirations behind the track was the "body-shaming" she received after a photo of herself in a bikini during her trip to Mexico was leaked online,[3] and media claimed she gained weight, while she also received hurtful comments.[4] She commented: "I was getting a lot of hate for my body and ‘you’re gaining weight,’ and so I was in Mexico and I was just feeling all of this stuff and I would be lying to you if I said it didn’t kind of hurt my feelings, but I kind of channeled that into my music."[3]

Later, she told the producers that the track was important, but the lyrics were more important.[1] In an interview for Power 106, she commented about how she was inspired to create the track, saying: "Everybody has had a say in my life … meaning the world, the perception, the media. It was really frustrating. There is a song on my record called ‘Kill Em with Kindness.’ So I’ve always done that. I ignore, I ignore, I ignore. And then it just kind of got out of hand. So I went to the new label [Interscope] and I was like, I have to say something. I need to say what I want to say, and you guys have to help me figure out how to do that."[5] After releasing three successful singles from Revival, Gomez entered the studio to work on the follow-up to her second solo studio album, claiming she was already moving on from the album. However, in an interview for 97.5 Now FM, she revealed that "Kill Em with Kindness" was going to be released as the album's fourth and final single, claiming: "‘Kill Em with Kindness’ is lyrically my favorite song I put on the record and I definitely can’t wait to be able for that to have a story."[6] It was serviced to contemporary hit radio on May 3, 2016.[7]

Recording and composition[edit]

It's kind of my motto for life. It's so much easier to be mean. It's so easy to just kind of give yourself that, but it's so hard to walk away from a situation, turn your cheek the other way, and be the bigger person. So, that's what 'Kill Em With Kindness' represents. I think people need to hear that more often.

— Gomez explaining the main theme and meaning behind "Kill Em with Kindness"[8]

As production coordinators, Andrew Luftman, Zvi Edelman, Astrid Taylor, and Seif Hussain assembled Antonina Armato and Tim James, known by their production name Rock Mafia, and Benny Blanco to write and produce "Kill Em with Kindness". Armato, James, and Blanco wrote the song alongside Gomez and American house music DJ Dave Audé. The track was recorded by Steve Hammons and Adam Comstock at Rock Mafia Studios in Los Angeles, California. After adding the instrumentation and programming, Armato, James and Blanco produced "Kill Em with Kindness" with assistance from R3drum. The song was sent to be mixed by Serban Ghenea at Mixstar Studios in Virginia Beach, Virginia. John Hanes served as the track's mixing engineer, and received assistance from Phil Seaford.[9]

Benny Blanco helped write and produce "Kill Em with Kindness"

Musically, "Kill Em with Kindness" is a groove-driven dance and electro house song,[10][11][12] and incorporates elements from EDM and electro music.[13][14] It's production is composed of airy synths, added bells, and a whistle hook connected by a tropical house breeze.[15][11][16] Cristina Jaleru of The Washington Times called "Kill Em with Kindness" an "approachable dance track",[11] while Mike Wass of Idolator noted that the whistle hook recalled Adam Lambert's "Ghost Town".[17] According to the sheet music published at by Universal Music Publishing Group, the song is written in the key of B minor with a tempo of 120 beats per minute in common time. The track follows a chord progression of Bm – G – D – F, and Gomez's vocals span from A3 to B4.[18]

Lyrically, "Kill Em with Kindness" gives advice for dealing with critics, and delivers a message of choosing peace instead of violence and revenge.[19][6] As the song opens, Gomez professes: "The world can be a nasty place / You know it / I know it". Wass noted the lyrics as conveying a message of peace, saying "instead of raising the proverbial middle finger, [Gomez] takes the high road."[17] The theme of magnanimity is further displayed in lyrics such as "We don't have to fall from grace / Put down the weapons you fight with", imploring the listener to "put out the fire before igniting." According to Mikael Wood of the Los Angeles Times, the song was Gomez's response to "ungentle tabloid chatter" in regards to her health and relationship with Justin Bieber.[15]

Critical reception[edit]

Tim Sendra of AllMusic picked it as a highlight from the album, remarking that "Gomez sounds most at home."[20] Elysa Gardner of USA Today selected it one of the tracks to download and named it a "groove-driven, electro-savvy track."[21] Sal Cinquemani of Slant Magazine noted that though it "lacks of originality," the song is yet a standout.[22] James Reed of Boston Globe called it a "dance-floor catnip,"[23] while Dave Hanratty of Drowned In Sound named it a "laser-focused sugar rush," adding that "Gomez succeeds in laying down a winning pop gauntlet."[24] Mikael Wood of Los Angeles Times noted that "what's remarkable is how steadied she seems by such a facile conviction."[15] Katharine St. Asaph of Time labelled it "au corant", which according to him "stirs a tropical-house breeze not dissimilar from Bieber's recent 'What Do You Mean?'."[16] Jia Tolentino of Spin wrote that the track works for addressing the viewing public, calling it a "hustling little posi-heater."[25] Lindsay Haddox of Music Times was positive, calling it "a very simple song but it's very catchy and fun. [...] [I]t's upbeat and has a fun chorus that makes you just want to dance, which is something the radio is full of these days. Another plus, it sends such a positive message out so that would be nice to see playing on the radio."[26] Mike Wass of Idolator referred to it as a "triple threat's measured missive to haters," noting that the message "is a powerful stance in the age of online-bullying, Twitter beefs and messy open letters."[17]

Music video and promotion[edit]

Track listing[edit]

  1. "Kill Em with Kindness" – 3:37
  • Digital download (Remixes)
  1. "Kill Em with Kindness" (Felix Cartal Remix) – 3:17
  2. "Kill Em with Kindness" (River Tiber Remix) – 3:41
  3. "Kill Em with Kindness" (Young Bombs Remix) – 3:56

Credits and personnel[edit]


Credits adapted from the liner notes of Revival, Interscope Records.[9]



  1. ^ a b c Feeney, Nolan (September 30, 2015). "Selena Gomez on Her New Album and Media Scrutiny: 'I Just Don't Care About the Noise Anymore'". Time. Retrieved January 21, 2016. 
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  22. ^ Cite error: The named reference slant was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
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External links[edit]