Monday, September 4th, 2017

Justin Bieber & Bloodpop – Friends

Perhaps more of a chum? Crony? Acquaintance? Colleague? Sympathizer? Compadre? Associate? Contemporary?


[Video][Website]
[5.55]

Maxwell Cavaseno: The irony of Bieber working with someone named Bloodpop who can manage to make such anemic electro aspire to feel fleshed out. No matter; the digital warbles and SFX are all cheap trappings, but Bieber is surprisingly human-like in his continued portrayal as a slightly neurotic narcissist who means well as far as he’s concerned. Perhaps too dim to realize his inability to let go, perhaps just a sleaze who’s number one victim to con is himself. Justin’s well-mannered decency is no less artificial as the other voices who accompany him, but there’s a question of motive, where Bloodpop needs to explain exactly what his purpose is.
[5]

Thomas Inskeep: Bieber’s voice isn’t a blank canvas, it’s vacant; he conveys no emotion at all. And so is this bullshit feeding-you-lines song, so I suppose in a way it’s a good pairing. Bloodpop apparently thinks it’s still 2014, based on the cluttered EDM smears over this not-even-mediocre pop song. 
[1]

Alfred Soto: “Wonder if you’ve got a body” is a thought I’d present to Justin Bieber, whose only claim to corporeal existence is on award shows. He has no lusts or wants besides what his songwriters present him and the requirements of his “brand,” i.e. act as much of a dick as is possible in song with a carefully nurtured fan base. The dance thud is welcome — “Friends” is his most focused track since 2015 — but defending the mild virtues of a powder-soft voice expressing dickhead sentiments will prove tiresome through November.
[5]

Scott Mildenhall: Nothing says “no ulterior motive” like initiating a discussion about someone’s mother before proceeding to talk at length about them instead. Who but Kang voters would ever believe Justin Bieber talking in everyday specificities about “getting jobs” and “selling used cars” anyway? It’s hard to forget when listening to “Friends” that this is one of the most famous people in the Western world talking, and that the nomadic existence of an international popstar might not lend itself to keeping in touch. And yet! He maintains that vocal hyper-sincerity that would be absurd anywhere outside of song, but arrestingly open-hearted within it. The answer to his question should probably be no, but the song bursts with re-emerging potential.
[8]

Katherine St Asaph: “I was wondering about your mama, did she get that job she wanted, sell that car that gave her problems?” is a tad more believable than “Hi, my name is Bob, and I work at my job,” but the way Bieber backpedals from it you’d think he was trying to score with her. Blood Diamonds’ big rebrand apparently involved reading his bank statement, reading some Internet poptimism, then going out to recreate “Teenage Dream.”
[4]

Josh Love: Taken at face value, “Friends” is ridiculous, the idea of Justin Bieber calling up a former flame because he’s genuinely concerned about her mom’s job prospects and automotive woes. To say he doesn’t exactly sell these lines is an understatement, especially when he stresses, “I’m just curious ’bout her, honest,” which is the kind of emphasis people usually only lend to a statement when it’s a total lie. Yet his half-assed play at empathy is perfect here, because no part of him really cares about staying friends and every line in this song is complete bullshit except “Doesn’t have to end.” Meanwhile the synths make it impossible not to dream about how great it’d be to hear Robyn cover this.
[7]

Olivia Rafferty: Halfway through drafting a review for this song, I realised just how much I really, really wished that this was a new Robyn track.
[8]

Anthony Easton: Bloodpop’s production has an undercurrent of paranoia, and Bieber’s move from banal small chat to unrelenting begging has a disconcerting, almost violent edge. It is morally suspect but incredibly effective. 
[8]

Crystal Leww: “Friends” is the logical next step in the progression of the propulsive ’80s-biting synth-heavy production in pop production. Pop-ish acts like Carly Rae Jepsen and Tegan & Sara have been doing it for two to three years, but Taylor Swift and The 1975 made this sound huge. Like Jack Antonoff, Bloodpop’s been floating around the pop production/writing world for ages, with plenty of press but a thin resume to support it. The fact that he’s landed Justin Bieber for vocals on his debut single is a gift only possible if you’re bros with Skrillex, I guess, but luckily, it’s mostly not squandered. “Friends” is weakest on the choruses when Bieber’s being his most Bieber-y self, but the chorus is fun, the propulsive vocal effects are fun, and this is mostly Sad But Banger. 
[7]

Katie Gill: Oversaturation is a thing. Between the “Despacito” remix, “I’m the One,” “Cold Water,” “Let Me Love You,” and the entirety of the Purpose album, it seems like the pop music world has had an unrelenting and never-ending stream of Bieber for the past two years. As such, any new output has to distinguish itself from the MASSIVE HOARD of Bieber music that’s already out there. “Friends” doesn’t do that. Bieber’s vocals are play-by-number over an equally stale beat and at times bizarre vocal arrangement. If this rises to the top of the charts, it’s only because pop music has yet to realize that we can take a break from the Biebs for a little bit, not on the song’s merits itself.
[4]

Stephen Eisermann: No, Justin, we can’t be friends when you tease me with such an engaging first verse and production, but ultimately give me more of the same generic pop you’ve been peddling for the past two years. 
[4]

Reader average: [4.66] (3 votes)

Vote: 0   1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10

2 Responses to “Justin Bieber & Bloodpop – Friends”

  1. hi-five Josh!

  2. yes! I think if we can get one more person to ask for this, especially if they stand in the dark in front of a mirror and spin around three times, it’ll definitely happen.

Leave a Reply