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Selena Gomez held a surprise Animal Crossing concert

New Horizons’ popularity is unparalleled right now

Selena Gomez in Animal Crossing: New Horizons. Image: Twitch via Animal Talking/Gary Whitta

Selena Gomez recently debuted a stripped-down version of her newest track with Trevor Daniel, “Past Life,” in an unexpected place: a late night talk show on Twitch that exists entirely within Animal Crossing: New Horizons.

Animal Talking is the brainchild of Gary Whitta, the Rogue One story co-writer who invites guests to load up the life simulator and chat through their cherubic avatars from the comfort of their own homes. On Wednesday, the livestream took one more cue from actual talk shows and featured a surprise musical guest. While Whitta has had stars on the show before, like Brie Larson, Gomez is undoubtedly his biggest pull yet — on Instagram alone, the former Disney actress has 185 million followers, making her one of the largest accounts on the entire service.

To play the track, Gomez and Daniel stood behind some in-game microphones and made their characters gush in real time with the “joy” emote. Gomez’s character appeared to be sporting subdued outfit consisting of a blue hoodie and white pants. “I wanted it to be simple,” she later said, because she felt that her clothes would go along with the acoustic version of the track.

This, in a way, perfectly encapsulates why stars are so willing to go on Animal Talking; it’s an incredibly chill experience. “Celebrities don’t look at appearing on our show as a promotional chore but something genuinely fun and silly to do, particularly these days,” Whitta said in an email.

“If I could just sing in my jeans and T-shirt for the rest of my life, I would,” Gomez said during the show.

According to Whitta, the track was pre-recorded, but Gomez was indeed present for the performance. After it was over, the pop star hung out for a bit and told the world that she picked up New Horizons because “everyone” was talking about it, and all her friends play it.

Twitch chat, needless to say, was ecstatic — Whitta says that the stream broke viewership records with a peak of 28,670 concurrents and nearly a million live views. It probably helped that Gomez shared a link to the livestream on Twitter, where she has 61.8 million followers.

During the interview, Gomez revealed that one of her dream song team-ups would be with Taylor Swift, a collaboration that the two megastars have wanted to do for a while.

“We both wanted to do that, it’s just, everything, everything, everything remains in our friendship,” she said. “It just feels like we’re family. I’ve known her for 13 years now, she’s been my best friend. We’ve talked about [making a song], for sure.”

Whitta says that while “Past Life” wasn’t live, the show will soon experiment with a real-time performance next week with musical guest Lisa Loeb. Gomez’s third studio album, Rare, came out in early 2020 — but Gomez says she’s already working on her next project.