Justin Bieber has kind of been getting on our nerves this year: he cancelled a chunk of his Purpose Tour, went and appeared in a bizarre livestream with a controversial church group and, even though he’s on ‘hiatus’, still managed to dominate the airwaves with ‘Despacito’, which he didn’t need to be on.
And now he’s annoying us even more by putting out another new song that’s… actually really good. F**k’s sake, Biebs.
This is ‘Friends’, a collaboration with producer BloodPop (who insists on adding an ® at the end of his name, but we’ve not got time for that):
Co-written by previous collaborators Justin Tranter and Julia Michaels, this feels like a definitive evolution from the Progress era singles.
If ‘Sorry’ and ‘Love Yourself’ etc. were the argumentative phase of a relationship, this is Bieber trying to patch things up now the dust has settled.
“Can we… still be… friends?” Bieber sings, with the pauses and the slightest hint of desperation in his vocals channelling all of the best Scandinavian pop ladies with blonde pixie cuts and broken hearts.
Sonically, we’re out of plodding tropical house territory (yay!) and landed in a sea of icy synths, balanced with some chugging rhythms to give it a bit of ’90s energy.
It doesn’t completely escape the tired modern pop trappings, however. The chorus is still an instrumental break with some irritating distorted vocals on top, but then we get a recurring ‘weeeeeooo’ noise that sounds like a firework blended with a frequency-tuning sound effect, which almost redeems it.
Also, BloodPop (or someone he paid) made a tool where you can create your own captions for the single artwork, so we did:
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