It’s odd to focus on something subtle in a video like Selena Gomez’s “Come & Get It,” but I’m about to do just that; because mixed in with all the shots of sweeping vistas, come-hither dance moves and, uh, tablas, there’s a dress. It’s red, and slightly tattered, and, perhaps I’m reading too much into it here, but it seems to be a direct callback to a similarly-tattered getup Britney Spears wore in her iconic “I’m a Slave 4 U” video … aka the coming-of-age clip against which all others shall be judged.
I’m not accusing Gomez of biting Britney’s style; rather, in her brand-new clip, which premiered Tuesday night on MTV, she’s paying homage to the time-honored tradition that Spears — not to mention a myriad of other teen-pop queens — have endured: namely, the point where they shed their squeaky-clean veneers and get Dirrty (all the X-Tina fans out there are slowly nodding in unison).
It’s a perilous transformation, to be certain, one that few have been able to pull off without suffering the slings and arrows of critics, some of whom actually make a valid point or two. And to her credit, Selena’s not growing up quite to the degree of her Disney contemporary Vanessa Hudgens — witness her recent “$$$ex” clip for proof — and as such, she’s likely to make it through (relatively) unscathed.
Because no matter how straightforward the song may be, the “Come & Get It” video goes to great lengths to be symbolic … sort of: Each shot of lightning, flames or fields drives home the point that sex can be elemental, massive, primal, especially when one is 20 years old. And even when she’s cooing lines like “You ain’t got to worry, it’s an open invitation/I’ll be sitting right here real patient,” Selena plays it demure with her dance moves, leaving most to the imagination in favor of synchronized arm movements and a stray hip shake or two.
And there’s no denying that, as far as coming of age tracks go, “Come & Get It” is also pretty interesting, a whirling mix of tablas and robo-vocals, culminating in a walloping chorus that recalls some of Rihanna’s better tracks (also, is there any doubt that, at some point in its life, this song was intended for RiRi?) Clearly, Selena and Co. have been paying close attention to her contemporaries, and, if they’re going to go in the same direction, at least they’re walking a different path.
So, yes, while she may be paying tribute to Britney with that red dress, Selena’s smart enough to know that after “Slave 4 U” came “Everytime,” the sad coda to Spears’ sexual revolution. To extend the Britney analogy one step further, n “Come & Get It,” Gomez seems to be saying she’s not a girl, not yet a woman … and really, what’s the rush?