Selena Gomez is not the innocent Disney star she once was. She made that clear with the setting and music choice during her Stars Dance Tour stop at the Petersen Events Center in Oakland Friday night.
The crowd was a split between elementary school kids and the moms they dragged with them. The crowd was chaotic and swarmed toward the stage anytime Gomez walked out onto her S-shaped catwalk. (A man I met after the concert showed me the bite marks on his upper arm from a mother who thought that he had taken her spot on the floor.)
Gomez, who recently turned 21, has drifted away from her wholesome days of "Wizards of Waverly Place." She made that evident during "Birthday," which blended into a cover of Rihanna's "Cake," singing, "It's not even my birthday/ But he wanna lick the icing off/ I know you want it in the worst way." I would have felt a lot more comfortable if I had not been sitting next to the mother of an 8-year-old.
While some of the material was too mature for her audience, Gomez did perform songs that were perfectly acceptable. Before the extremely lighthearted cover of "Dream" by Priscilla Ahn more than halfway through the concert, she addressed the audience for the first time: "I'm like everyone in this room, I had a dream... takes hard word and dedication...promise you're worth it." She then went into a fabulous harmonica solo and, later, handed the harmonica to a fan.
Following the cover, Gomez sang one of her most popular songs, "Who Says," maybe only tune with a message that the elementary-school-age kids could grasp: "Who says you don't pass the test / Who says you can't be the best? / Who says, who says?"
But she immediately followed up that wholesome number by running backstage to change outfits as many red ropes fell from the railings above. She and her backup dancers wrapped themselves up and danced with the ropes, like pole dancers, to an older song, "Whiplash." When compared with the innocence of the two previous tunes, this was the most inappropriate part of the night.
While Selena Gomez is nowhere near as outrageous as Miley Cyrus or Lady Gaga, the fanbase has to be considered. Gomez has young fans who still watch her on the Disney Channel; her last special ran earlier this year.She can't be a squeaky-clean teenybopper forever. But the transition is going to be awkward.
Olivia McKay is a 17-year-old freelance writer. First Published October 13, 2013 7:09 AM