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“What Do You Mean?” unquestionably Bieber’s best

| Monday, August 31, 2015

what do you meanSusan Zhu | The Observer

As the self-proclaimed general of Justin Bieber’s army, it has been admittedly difficult to defend him in recent history. Bieber has had various run-ins with the law: reckless driving in 2012, different instances of vandalism both in the U.S. and in Brazil and suspicions of substance abuse and DUIs. The good boy-image — which has proven to be so commercially successful — from 2008 to 2010 has all but evaporated, replaced instead with tattoos and Calvin Klein’s #mycalvins [sic] campaign. With all these questions and radical changes surrounding Bieber’s image, how does he go about changing the trajectory of his career?

Put out an absolute hit. On Friday, August 28, Bieber released his highly-anticipated single, “What Do You Mean?,” produced by Cali The Producer and Skrillex, the latter behind Bieber’s latest megahit, “Where Are Ü Now.” “Highly-anticpated,” by the way, is an absolute understatement — Bieber kickstarted a month-long awareness campaign by announcing the release of his new single on Ryan Seacrest’s radio show. Bieber then took to social media, posting a photo of Seacrest holding up a card reading “Justin Bieber. 30 Days. What Do You Mean?”

From there, the social media campaign was in full-swing. Celebrities left and right followed Seacrest’s lead and took to social media, specifically Instagram, to visually declare their support for Bieber’s new single. The celebrities and fellow superstars were as wide in their variety as Biebers’ fanbase: from the set of “The Today Show” to Ellen Degeneres and from Ariana Grande to Travis Scott, celebrities all ended up on Bieber’s Instagram account holding up cards counting down the days until the release of “What Do You Mean?” Even non-celebrities jumped on the bandwagon, as different users of Snapchat and Twitter posted their selfies to countdown the release of their story along with their favorite celebrities.

With so much buildup and hype to the release, was the unbelievably high level of anticipation warranted for the success of the product? The facts speak for themselves: Bieber’s single is the fastest single to reach number one on iTunes. The previous record holder for fastest single to reach number one on iTunes was One Direction’s “Drag Me Down,” a feat they accomplished in less than an hour. Bieber broke that record by five minutes. Five minutes is an eternity in today’s world of instant information, and One Direction’s fanbase is nothing to scoff at; Bieber’s fanbase simply out-supported One Direction’s.

As for the product itself, Forbes’ has recently proclaimed Bieber’s “What Do You Mean?” as the heir to the summer-hit throne, previously held by OMI’s “Cheerleader.” The song has been heralded as a “slow-burner” by both The Daily Beast and Consequence of Sound; Billboard’s Jason Lipshutz rated the song a four out of five, while noting that the song, “positioned as [Bieber’s] huge comeback bid, synthesizes the positive components of ‘Where Are U Now’ and presents something warmer and friendlier, but no less nuanced or impressive.” It’s hard to believe that Bieber would need a comeback bid, especially with the lucrative mainstream success of previous single “Where Are Ü Now,” but nonetheless Bieber’s latest release is — without question — the song of the (late) summer and Bieber’s best work to date.

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About Miko Malabute

Senior student at the University of Notre Dame, majoring in Biochemistry. From Tujunga, CA.

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