Carla Thomas opened her 1966 hit “B-A-B-Y” with a breathy, girley, highly pitched:

Baby, ooh, baby. I love to call you baby…

Selena Gomez’s also opens her current hit, “Rare,” with a breathy “baby” but it’s not girlish, rather, it’s grown up and sensual, and quickly progresses to

 Why don’t you recognize I’m so rare?…

Always there

You don’t do the same for me

That’s not fair

 And I’ll bet there’s somebody else out there

To tell me I’m rare, to make me feel rare …

Every day, happy couples refer to each other as “baby” and nobody is complaining, but Pop music amplifies bits and pieces of the zeitgeist, and when a superstar like Selena Gomez touts self-respect and self-empowerment as a reflection of a cultural trend that she herself embraces, she’s also influencing millions of her young girl fans, and perhaps shifting the impact and meaning of the word “baby” to a new generation.

“Rare” is mid-tempo, catchy, airy,  smooth and gooey. It’s #16 on the Top 40 chart, and has over 56 million YouTube views.