After a kidney transplant this summer and a public breakup with The Weeknd, Selena Gomez made a triumphant return Sunday night at the American Music Awards. In a knockout performance of her hit song “Wolves,” with EDM artist Marshmello, Gomez appeared onstage in a ripped white nightgown and a bleached blonde bob, covered in bruises and fake blood, as if she had really been “running with the wolves.”
Gomez was introduced by singer and songwriter Julia Michaels, who told the audience, “If you looked up ‘bravery’ in the dictionary you would find this next performer’s name.”
Bravery and resilience remained constant themes throughout her set, as a tired and beaten-up Gomez fought her backup dancers consistently trying to set her back. Every time she was knocked down, she continued to get back up and face the challenges before her.
Gomez remained the focus throughout the performance, as the camera never left the stage. At the end of the set, Gomez pointed and looked up to the sky as she sang the song’s final words, “I’ve been crying with the wolves . . . to get to you.” The symbolism of pointing to the sky implied that she was going through all these struggles for God, made evident by the diamond cross necklace she wore during her set.
When she finished, the camera panned out to show the entire audience on its feet applauding her. Before she walked offstage, the camera caught her mouthing the words, “Thank you.”
It was easy to tell that this performance was a struggle for Gomez, who’s been in recovery for the past few months. Many viewers felt that she was lip-synching during parts of the set where she was being knocked down. However, when she was singing live, viewers could hear the emotion in her voice, which made the performance more powerful.
The emphasis on her struggle to get onstage and sing added to the performance’s emotion. While many viewers may still have mixed views on Gomez and her talent, everyone should admire someone who consistently rises above life’s challenges to pursue the career she loves.