There are lots of things in life that are easy. Beating Floyd Mayweather in a spelling bee is easy. Not living up to your potential and slowly growing to hate yourself more and more every day is easy. Your mom is easy (got ‘em!). But I’m not sure that there’s anything in this world easier than looking down on Justin Bieber.
Which, to be honest, is kinda baffling.
He’s an objectively good-looking dude. He has a great singing voice. He’s self-made, working his way from making YouTube videos to being one of the most famous people in the world. And, while he makes headlines for his immature behavior from time to time, for being that famous, and that young, he’s done really well to not be an awful human being (how many of you would never have a bad moment caught on film if cameras were on you every second of your life?). He’s a true American (well, Canadian) success story.
So why all the hate?
My prevailing theory (and by that I mean I stole it from Lindsay Ellis’s apology video to Stephanie Meyer) is that American society kind of unfairly hates teenage girls, and since they’re “stupid,” the things they like have to be stupid too (see: Twilight).
I’m not arguing that Justin Bieber and Twilight are the BEST, but they’re certainly no worse than the dumb stuff teenage boys like (see: Transformers). But they get a lot more hate.
But while it’s easy to hate on Justin Bieber, he’s actually done some really good work over the years. And I want to highlight one of those songs today. And, full disclosure, as much as I like this song, it’s not even my fave J Biebs tune.
Let’s get one thing out of the way right off the bat. This is a pop song.
It’s not a generational piece of music. It’s not supposed to be. But, looking at it for what it is, it’s a damn GOOD pop song.
What do I like about it? Two things, mostly.
First, I think that it does a great job of being relatable. Look at these lyrics from the 1st and 2nd verses for a second:
I know you know that I made those mistakes maybe once or twice
By once or twice I mean maybe a couple of hundred times
I’ll take every single piece of the blame if you want me to
But you know there’s no innocent one in this game for two
In the first verse, Bieber is being self-aware. He knows that he’s messed up, and that it’s not the first time. In the second verse, he’s trying to make peace, but there’s a little bit of his pride left in there too; he’s not just shelling out sanctimonious apologies that he doesn’t really mean until she takes him back.
Anyone who’s ever been in a relationship can relate to BOTH of those very real perspectives. In real life, people mess up, and realize they mess up, but also try to negotiate a peace and try to communicate their perspective, that maybe it wasn’t ALL their fault, and that if they both admit fault, they can really heal. This song isn’t all fun beats; it does a good job capturing real nuances of life in only a few lines, which not a lot of songs manage to do.
But SPEAKING of fun beats, the other thing I really appreciate about this song is the fun beats!
And what I mean by that is that the melody of this song is pretty atypical of mainstream pop songs. It’s syncopated, broken up, and funky. It’s not hard to re-imagine this song as a ballad sung with a lone guitar, and that version of this song would suck. The version we got is unique, relatable, and doesn’t take itself too seriously.
Which is pretty cool, coming from a guy who apparently everyone has agreed is the worst.