|“||Hit the Lights is a song that I love which is basically saying that you can't sit there and say 'I should have done this' or 'My life would be different if I done that'. It's about living in the moment.||”|
– Selena in an interview with Little Angel
"Hit the Lights" was met with a positive reception from music critics, who praised its club feel. The song debuted on the Canadian Hot 100 at number ninety-three. The music video for the song was released on November 16, 2011. The video features Gomez and some friends playing around in the fields and later partying at night and running around in the city. In February 2012, the MD Remix was released as a music video on Gomez's official YouTube channel. As of 2012, the song has sold over 270,000 copies in the United States. The song failed to chart on Billboard Hot 100.
Background and composition
"Hit the Lights" was written by Leah Haywood, Daniel James, and Tony Nilsson, while the production was helmed by Haywood and Daniel Pringle under their production moniker ‘Dreamlab’. The song was recorded at Dreamlab Studios in Los Angeles, California while the mixing was done at MixStar Studios in Virginia Beach, Virginia. In an interview with Billboard magazine, Selena Gomez explained every track on the song’s parent album. In describing “Hit the Lights” she commented that the song’s lyrics spoke about things relatable to everyone, commenting "It's kind of one of those songs about living in the moment while keeping it a big huge summer dance track." Gomez gave hints to releasing a new single with a teaser picture from the set of a music video. The photograph was released on her Twitter on September 30, 2011 and featured the message "With some of my girl[s] from tour. Shootin the video. I can't wait for y'all to see it." The photograph features Gomez with neon-streaked hair extensions surrounded by three girls in a farmland like background. Gomez released several teases for the music video throughout October and early November. This is also the first time we hear an expletive in a Selena Gomez & The Scene song, in this case it's "damn".
“Hit the Lights” is an up-tempo dance song that runs for three minutes and fourteen seconds. The song is written in the key of G major and is set in time signature of common time with a moderately fast tempo of 132 beats per minute. Gomez's vocal range spans from the high-tone of D3 to the lower register of B4. The song has a basic sequence of Em–Csus2–Em–Gmaj7–Bm/F# as its chord progression. The lyrics of “Hit the Lights”, which expresses a more adult approach to life situations, displays more maturity than the band’s previous recordings. It is also musically different than the music of When the Sun Goes Down.
Bill Lamb of About.com named "Hit the Lights" as one of the top tracks on the When the Sun Goes Down album, along with "Love You Like a Love Song", "That's More Like It" and "Middle of Nowhere". Amy Sciarretto of PopCrush, in her review of When the Sun Goes Down, was mixed about the song, writing that "It is a clubby, raise-your-glass dance song that isn't one of the album's strongest. There are better club rockers — we won't go as far as to call 'em "bangers" — on the album." Another PopCrush writer, Cristin Maher, noted that the video "is slightly reminiscent of Katy Perry‘s ‘Teenage Dream’ clip in the sense that it is all about young people really living in the moment." She also commented that the video "highlights the overall quality of the song in addition to showing the singer’s growth in terms of choosing compelling and captivating visuals for her songs." Tim Sendra of Allmusic praised her vocals on the song, commenting that she "comes on like a convincing disco diva on "Hit the Lights"." Blair Kelly of musicOMH followed in the praise of the song as a "massive club hit" but was mixed in noting that "in the surroundings of the rest of the album it doesn't make sense."
Jeff Benjamin of Billboard magazine commented that "Gomez remains as innocently cute as ever with sunglasses too big for her face in the opening scene. In fact, the most controversial moment of the video comes when Selena and her posse smash a pumpkin to bits. Not a girl, definitely... not yet a woman (she's still partying in a football stadium). Is Selena's own "Slave 4 U" moment coming soon? From this video, it looks like the 19 year-old still has a little time before she shedding her squeaky clean image—if she plans to at all." A writer from The Huffington Post took a liking to the song’s music video, writing that it “captures the feeling of being young and carefree, and is all about having a good time with your friends. (And having fun in a pile of pink balloons.)”.
Gomez started filming the video for "Hit the Lights" in late September 2011. The music video premiered on VEVO on November 16, 2011. Five short teasers of the video were released from November 7, 2011 to November 9, 2011, with a Behind the Scenes video released on November 11, 2011.
The official music video is 3 minutes and 24 seconds long and begins with Gomez signing in front of a lime green background. 20 seconds into the video, Gomez, as well as her band members and a few other people are shown in a wheat field, attempting to keep several oversized balloons from touching the ground. Next, the group are wandering through a corn field and begin dancing and jumping, with Gomez singing the song's chorus. The group briefly appears in a pumpkin patch outside of the cornfield, throwing and smashing some pumpkins. Later, as the sun is beginning to set, the group sits on the back of a pickup truck, eating watermelon. The truck begins to issue a large amount of smoke.
As the second playing of the chorus begins, it is shown to be night, and the group are on a street in a neighborhood, where they are dancing while holding flashlights. The group proceeds to a house party. Shortly afterwards, the group are in a dark forest, where there are several disco balls hanging from trees. Gomez then appears surrounded by several hundred pink balloons, wearing pink and yellow sunglasses, as well as in an empty and dark football field. A few people are shown jumping into a pool before returning to the dark street where they begin dancing with sparklers and fireworks go off around them. Finally, the group begins dancing and running through a brightly-lit city, similar to Times Square as the song ends.
The MD Remix video was released in February 2012 and the second version was made.
- The band has performed "Hit the Lights" on the We Own the Night Tour, and it is the second song performed after the Dave Aude remix version of "A Year Without Rain" and before "Summer's Not Hot".
- On July 24, 2011, the band performed the song “Hit the Lights” at the O.C. Fair. Amy Sciarretto praised Gomez's performance at the concert, writing "The multi-talented multi-tasker gave us further evidence of her endless talents. While we're used to hearing her chat in interviews or seeing her videos, this live taste of the singer proves what a talent she is, singing and dancing without losing her breath. We also love her fabulously bedazzled pink microphone."
- On the day of the MTV Europe Music Awards, Gomez performed "Hit the Lights" in a bedazzled purple jumpsuit with her band.
- Gomez also performed this song on December 31, 2011 in New York for NYE in NYC 2011 along with "Love You Like a Love Song".
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