Justin Bieber. The person you love to hate, hate to love or get generally emotionally confused about. That’s okay - me too. JB has recently dropped his new single ‘What Do You Mean’, which has taken his musical style in a new direction. If you stop reading this now, I’m going to summarise it in two words: it’s sick.
As has become tradition for me here at WG when writing about music, I’m going to mention the cover art. Whilst there isn’t much to say about it, the subtle differences it has to the art of his previous releases speak volumes. For starters, the lack or colour. The monochrome art shows a maturity in visual style, having a more clean aesthetic, which is a detachment from the purples and oranges seen on the cover of his previous releases. His personal presentation shows a maturity as well. Granted I’m aware he probably has at least three people working on his hair alone, but the way he’s dressed, simple and plain, also shows a maturity for the Biebs.
So the tune. Well, a little help from EDM heavyweight Skrillex wouldn’t hurt anyone, but the collaboration between the two has definitely produced some great stuff on this track. The underlying beat of the song is a bit more complex than what we’re used to with Bieber songs, with more melody driving synths and more detail and complexity in the percussion section.
The song begins with an emotional yet simple string of piano chords, which lapse as soon as the vocal enters, replaced later on with a synth line of a similar tune. The pre-chorus brings the song down again before launching into one of the catchier chorus’ I’ve heard in recent times, referring to the synth and beat line as well as the vocal.
The song goes from verse to chorus, to verse, to bridge, in a similar fashion, with a heightened vocal with more background vocal and harmonies to the synth melody. I’m not complaining though, it’s infectious and part of the formula for an infectious tune is repetition.
We’re all aware of the stigma that goes around listening to Bieber, and I’m going spell it out, particularly if you're a guy. I personally think that this is a crock of shit. I know it seems cliché, but no matter what gender, race, whatever category you find yourself in, music has no boundaries to that. Music is a universal language which we can all appreciate and I think it’s important we remember this and think before giving our mate shit for jamming this track.
Sorry to get all deep on ya. It’s a tune. Go listen.