From “Where Are Ü Now” to “What Do You Mean?” to “Sorry” to “Cold Water” to “Let Me Love You” to “2U,”Justin Bieber is one of the most consistent purveyors of dance-pop in the past few, strange years in pop music. (Someone’s got to do it while Robyn‘s off fucking around somewhere not releasing “Honey,” don’t they?)
Granted, “Friends” isn’t Justin’s own single: it’s technically BloodPop®‘s official artist debut; the producer formerly known as Blood Diamonds, who made a name for himself crafting remixes and co-writing for the likes of Grimes and Sky Ferreira, and is now one of the most sought-after acts in the industry, collaborating with Madonna on Rebel Heart and, of course, Biebs on Purpose. (Since then, he’s had a hand in Britney‘s should-have-been-summer-smash “Better” and the bulk of Lady Gaga‘s experimental-country-folk Reverse Warholian expedition Joanne, among other things.)
In short, BloodPop’s doing just fine for himself. So why not do something for himself this time with the help of a few famous friends?
“Friends” is a reunion of sorts between the songwriters behind Bieber’s inescapable and still-incredible “Sorry,” including Julia Michaels — who’s currently paving her own solo path at the moment — and Justin Tranter.
The track essentially picks up where “Sorry” ended. And as it turns out, sorry just wasn’t enough. (Go ahead, get the Selena Gomez fan-fic out of your system now.)
Bieber breathily goes through all the awkward-yet-sincere post-break up emotions: “I was wonderin’ ’bout your mama / Did she get that job she wanted?” and even plays with fire by making the classic mistake of attempting to rekindle a newly deadened flame.
A great line: “Wonderin’ if you think about me — actually, don’t answer that.”
The production is, as with “Sorry,” a floor-filling, beat breakdown-for-a-chorus affair, backed by an electronic current that borders on “Dancing On My Own” territory. (A very good thing, in case anyone was confused.) It’s not quite as in-your-face as “Sorry,” but then, Bieber’s only just now settling into the fact that he’s flying solo again.
That subtle “ah-ah” after each question is also a solid touch.
Really, as long as Bieber keeps asking questions in general — “Where are you now?” “What do you mean?” “Is it too late now to say sorry?” “Can we still be friends?” — we all stand to benefit. Is that alright with you, Justin?