“Love Yourself” by Justin Bieber

Like Bieber’s other hits around this time, this was a surprising improvement on nearly all of his work pre-2015, with the same appealing vaguely Tropical-House EDM sound that had by then become his trademark. That said, like his prior hit single, “Sorry”, it has a tendency to pollute those appealing qualities with an extremely ugly, passive-aggressive lyric (the title is a euphemism for “fuck yourself”, for those who didn’t pick up on it). On “Sorry”, the pose he was apparently trying to strike was “sorry to the public for my asinine behavior in the last two years, except screw you, I’m not sorry”, but here, he’s offering more bluntly phrased but ultimately similar sentiments toward some unnamed girl. His fans, of course, were being led to believe it was directed as Selena Gomez, even though, since neither Bieber nor Gomez are singer-songwriters, the idea of them being in a Taylor Swift/John Mayer-esque songwriting feud is rather absurd. I don’t honestly know if Bieber and Gomez’s extremely public romance was ever anything but a publicity stunt to begin with, but I guarantee you that their respective handlers would not be trying to create the impression that they were still directing songs at each other this many years later if they hadn’t figured out that the resulting publicity and audience interest promoted their careers and led to increased profits. So the concept from which most interest in the song was drawn was little more than a cheap publicity stunt, and since I am capable of seeing through that attempt, I am left with little more than a pleasant EDM ballad set to poisonously mean-spirited lyrics, and I believe indifference is the most logical reaction in this case.

Verdict: Good music, bad lyrics, generally mediocre overall product.

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