Bad Liar is a minimalist masterpiece that transcends language and social boundaries. Gomez masterfully takes us on a sonic journey unlike no other, it’s no wonder why critics such as myself refer to it as the Bayeux Tapestry of music.
In 2016, Billboard posted its annual list of top pop songs of the year. Naturally, ‘Bad Liar’ by Selena Gomez took its rightful place at number one, much to the chagrin of people with absolutely zero taste everywhere. Selenators everywhere rejoiced at the justice for this quintessential pop banger, however, to simply place ‘Bad Liar’ in the number one spot for just the year is not enough. In this essay, I will argue for the inclusion of ‘Bad Liar’ in the number one spot for pop songs released in the entire 21st Century.
Musically speaking, ‘Bad Liar’ samples ‘Psycho Killer’ by Talking Heads which on paper sounds like it shouldn’t work. To replace the standard instrumentation and vocals typical of Rock music with the sounds of a modern minimalistic approach to Pop music is innovative to say the least, and Gomez’s clean yet mysterious voice works incredibly well over the insistent bass line; adding a depth not often seen in chart music. This deviation from the norm is perhaps to blame for the fact that ‘Bad Liar‘ failed to reach the top of the charts; a robbery of this scale has not been seen since Toni Collete failed to receive a academy award nomination for her performance in the A24 horror film Hereditary.
Whitney Houston once famously sang that “children are our future, teach them well and let them lead the way” and that is exactly what Gomez is doing here with her lyrics: “But just like the Battle of Troy, there’s nothing subtle here/ ah ah”. Here Gomez is educating the children on important subject matter such as the Trojan Siege, in which the whole nation of Troy (née Troy Bolton) was besieged by a giant horse or something. That’s besides the point.
The point is that, like others before her, Gomez is using her status and popularity to advance civilisation further; a selfless act inspired by the teachings of legends such as Buddha, Jesus, and Toni Collette in Hereditary.
The music video for Bad Liar is equally as culturally important as the music, with a performance worthy of an Academy Award by none other than the queen of acting herself: Selena Gomez. Not since James McAvoy’s performance in M Night Shyamalan’s Split has an actor so deftly woven a vast array of characters into their psyche and altered their entire physicality to tell a story so beautifully. Selena Gomez channels the essence of academy award deserving Toni Collette as she portrays a young girl called Selena Gomez, who falls in love with Selena Gomez who is having an affair with Selena Gomez.
Selena Gomez further asserts her status as an educator by including complex ideologies and key stage 5 words in her lyrics. When she sings “call me an amenity/ ah ah” Gomez is not only challenging the listeners vocabulary, she is simultaneously referencing the timeless and LGBTQ+ film Call Me By Your Name, featuring a progressive and daring plot in which a skinny white boy falls for a slightly broader skinny white boy.
In addition, when Gomez sings “ah ah” she is of course referring to the act of sexual intercourse, which some people like to do to this song after a long night at the discotheque with a lover whose name you can only barely remember. Ultimately, the many layers of meaning created using various vocal techniques in ‘Bad Liar’ peel away to reveal at its core a tender and open love story that closely mirrors the work of Shakespeare and, more recently, Toni Collette in Hereditary.
A pretty obvious indication of a song’s cultural impact on the world is if any South Korean musicians have been inspired by it, and by inspired by I mean, copied exactly. Above you can find the music video for ‘Sober’ by Suzy. This trend of South Korean versions of American songs is not exactly new, but it is a testament to the power of ‘Bad Liar’ that ‘Sober’ also manages to sound completely intoxicating and classy whilst being a quintessential club banger that stands out from other Korean-Pop cannon fodder.
In conclusion, ‘Bad Liar’ is a lesson for all young girls out there that it is not enough to be a pretty face to make it in the music industry . You must also have the ability to educate the masses and tell musical stories through award winning acting, holistic vocal training, and philanthropic lyrics that end world hunger and/or poverty. Selena Gomez deftly embraces the multitude of talents that she has honed and unleashes them upon us all at once in a brave fantasia lasting exactly 3 minutes and 35 seconds.
If you have not yet felt the power of ‘Bad Liar‘ by the end of this article, then I am afraid there must be something clinically wrong with you. You may take your bog-standard Charli XCX single and say – ‘I prefer this’, and that is ok. It is ok to be unwell! I hope you get better soon. xx