Selena Gomez gave an emotional debut live performance of ‘The Heart Wants What It Wants,’ her song about Justin Bieber, at the American Music Awards (AMAs). She held the audience spellbound and appeared on the verge of breaking down in tears at the end.

Selena Gomez

Photo: Selena Gomez
Credit: PR Photos

The pop music superstar premiered the music video for the intensely emotional song, and, her performance in many ways matched the emotional intensity of the video and the track as she sang it live in front of the audience at the Nokia Theatre in L.A. as well as viewers around the world tuning in for the much-anticipated 42nd annual AMAs, the American Music Awards.

The stark staging of the song, with Selena Gomez standing in the shadows only served to heighten the drama and intensity.

For the viewing audience, she was seen at a distance throughout most of the song; there were not the usual closeups of a brightly lighted face. Instead, she somewhat like a person giving an interview who does not want her identify revealed.

The performance began with her spoken preamble, in which she is heard tearfully talking about the pain of the relationship. “I felt like I know him, I know his heart, and I know what he wouldn’t do to hurt me.”

And, the preamble goes on, into even more personal territory as she is heard saying, “I didn’t realize that feeling so confident, feeling so great about myself and it just be completely shattered by one thing….”

The song itself mutes the emotional pain into a numbing, EDM beat and Selena Gomez sang the lyrics which, if one listens closely, one finds such lines as “There’s a million reasons why I should give you up / but the heart wants what it wants.”

It was hard to imagine her singing the song without being emotional and so the question was how emotional would she be. By the end, as the camera zoomed in she appeared to be on the verge of breaking down. The song ended, and thus, the end of the debut live performance.

Perhaps from here on out it will always teeter like that between emotional intensity and sheer meltdown.

You can see Selena Gomez’s performance below.