"Bad Liar" is a song by American singer Selena Gomez. She co-wrote the song with long-time collaborators Julia Michaels and Justin Tranter, and the producer, Ian Kirkpatrick. The track samples the bassline from Talking Heads' 1977 single "Psycho Killer", written by David Byrne, Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth, who are therefore credited. "Bad Liar" was released by Interscope and Polydor Records as a single on May 18, 2017. A vertical music video accompanied the release, becoming the first music video to premiere on Spotify, where it was made available exclusively. A second music video, directed by Jesse Peretz, was released on June 14, 2017 on Gomez's Vevo channel on YouTube, in which she plays four characters.
The song received acclaim from critics, who noted the mid-tempo production for its non-traditional structure in Gomez's catalogue. David Byrne, Talking Heads vocalist, also complimented the song.
"Bad Liar" was written by Selena Gomez, Julia Michaels, Justin Tranter, and Ian Kirkpatrick, who also produced the song. Its initial inspiration came from the American band Talking Heads who Gomez and Michaels are fans of. During a session with Gomez and Tranter, Michaels suggested that they should write a song over the bassline of the band's 1977 single "Psycho Killer", specifically interpolating band member Tina Weymouth's riff. The minimal bassline from the song was used as a starting point for "Bad Liar" from which its topline melody developed. In an interview for Variety magazine, Tranter recalled that it was "one of those magical moments where the song just comes together very quickly and felt so good." Warner/Chappell Music executive Greg Sowder played "Bad Liar" to Talking Heads member David Byrne who liked the track and Gomez's vocal performance, and along with Weymouth and Chris Frantz granted permission for it to sample "Psycho Killer".
"Bad Liar", described as a "slow-build pop rock tune", begins with a steady beat built around rhythm and an uneven bassline from "Psycho Killer". The production is otherwise sparse and textured, featuring percussive snaps and handclaps. Unlike with Gomez's previous single "It Ain't Me" which made use of reverberation and pitch contouring, her voice is restrained and emphasized on "Bad Liar" by being mixed to limit and contain it. Her vocals are multitracked to emphasize urgency. With several lines in the song being acrostic and syllable-reliant, Gomez uses a spoken-sung cadence. The track is written in verse–chorus form, although it features both a pre-chorus and a post-chorus.
The lyrics find Gomez narrating events of avoiding to admit her feelings for a new love interest, but later conceding that the difficulty of it makes her a "Bad Liar". Upon release, "Bad Liar" was misinterpreted as a break-up song, prompting co-writer Justin Tranter to explain in a post on Twitter, "You got some of the lyrics wrong, and it's actually about trying to hide magic feelings for someone new, but not being able to."
Gomez first teased the single's release on Twitter on May 3, 2017, sharing a link to her website where fans could sign up for updates though a mailing list. On May 5, 2017, a countdown to the release was launched on the website. "Bad Liar" was made available to be pre-saved on Spotify on May 16, 2017. The song's official lyrics were premiered on lyrics website Genius the following day. The singer also shared a short snippet of "Bad Liar" which received over 4.2 million views on Instagram in one day. The single was released to digital and streaming outlets at midnight EST on May 18, 2017.
Gomez worked with Canadian photographer Petra Collins for the single's promotional artwork. On May 11, 2017, the singer began sharing a series of images on social media featuring the song's title and lyrics written in lipstick across a bathroom mirror. The following day, Gomez posted the cover art for "Bad Liar" on Twitter. It features the song's title written in red lipstick across Gomez's one thigh as she lays on a bed of rocks in a periwinkle babydoll embroidered with flowers and butterflies. Maria Ward of Vogue magazine named Gomez's babydoll "the look of the summer", complimenting its embroidery and "easy, breezy style". An alternative cover art was shared by the singer on Instagram on May 17, 2017, showing her laying down wearing a small gauze bandage, and a yellow fall-risk hospital wristband given to patients who are at risk of falling due to lack of balance and weak muscles. According to Collins, the image was shot straight after Gomez came from hospital for a lupus treatment. Alex Frank of Pitchfork suggested that it referenced tabloid reaction to the singer's time in rehabilitation. Alex Kazemi of V magazine found the artwork powerful and vulnerable, regarding it as the most controversial imagery of a female singer since Fiona Apple's music video for "Criminal" (1997). File Hashes