Thursday, November 12th, 2015

Justin Bieber – Sorry

We forgive you (most of us, anyway)…


Crystal Leww: I have no doubt that Purpose, in all its 18-track bonus edition, will feature a lot of boring filler. However, the Skrillex and BLOOD produced “Sorry” is not that, bouncing in all its tropical house glory for a beautiful three and a half minutes.

Alfred Soto: May Bieber record house tracks in perpetuity. BLOOD and Skrillex’s tuneful vulgarity suits the pop star’s try-anything approach. Every time his voice threatens to turn “vulnerable,” Skrillex mocks him with synth horns and the kind of sampled Fairlight vocal that wowed the kids in 1986. I expect marvels from the dance mix.

Anthony Easton: Bieber working as the least interesting thing about an exquistely produced track, one that rewards an almost anonymity, becomes a worthwhile tactic. It makes him sound humble, it works with the vocals of slight humilation, and you almost don’t believe the whole thing. It becomes this double irony — a cocky manboy formally constructing an apology that still rests on his celebrated voice. The egoless abjection would not exist without a profound ego. 

Josh Winters: If Selena is staring at the sunset on the edge of the cliffs while waving a silk in the air, Justin has his knees deep in the sand at the bottom of the beach begging for her mercy. The weight of his guilt is measured in Skrillex’s quasi-orchestral hits that boom down like tropical thunderbolts, with the synthesized horn riff signaling for an imminent emotional earthquake. Bieber never lets the beat subsume him, riding out the storm for all his feelings to float upon and for the rest of us to shake our asses to.

Maxwell Cavaseno: Bieber’s husky rasp is a surprisingly comfortable tool for adulthood; clear and resonant singing don’t suit how well he leans on his jerk-off persona, and his hushed tones both echo the intimacy of the weightless quality of the verse grooves while giving him a further reminder of his aging from the squeaky clean polish of yesteryears. Meanwhile, his slurry deejaying-flecked delivery scores well over Skrillex’s tropicalia, the obnoxiousness of the horns a clear hangover from Skrillex’s time with Diplo in learning how to harness the irritant to surprisingly catchy effects.

Thomas Inskeep: Bieber’s voice has never sounded more breathy-R&B to my ears, but he simultaneously sounds mighty early-’80s soft rock (cf. Marty Balin, specifically — and I know that doesn’t entirely make sense, but it’s precisely where my head goes). Skrillex is clearly learning from his buddy Diplo, because his pop production skills are growing exponentially, reminiscent of when Usher dropped “Climax” and we all went “Diplo helmed this?!” There’s a slight soca rhythm in its syncopation, an easy little shuffle that pairs nicely with the song’s apologetic themes: this is one well-oiled machine of popcraft.

Patrick St. Michel: I’ve tried explaining what “Sorry” sounds like to every music-centric friend who doesn’t exist primarily on Twitter in my life, and nearly all of them have responded with “like The Tough Alliance?” And I think I’m of a similar mindset, except I’ve been really good at convincing myself of any similarities that probably aren’t there. I love the music itself, thanks to its vaguely Balearic vibe that would sound great from a hammock. But I also don’t think I’ve considered Bieber at all despite listening to this a bunch, and have missed his groan-worthy calls for game officials. I want more pop music to sound like this, but also I think I’m just listening to the instrumental?

Scott Mildenhall: A very convincing portrayal of someone who might have something to say sorry for, given the implied sense of revelation in noting that a person is more than a body. It’s almost as if that wasn’t the intent! In any case, Bieber’s new position at pop’s funny noise vanguard really has been a revelation, and in this case, rather than moping or moralising, he’s a buffoonish man struggling to admit his continuing wrongness, ultimately reduced to continually blurting a raspy “saw-ri!”. It’s the most compelling conflict of the three, and the best to dance to.

Brad Shoup: The mellotron forms the parens on Bieber’s erotic apology fantasia, in which he gets to make jokes and emerge unscathed, and to deflect blame just enough to gain strength for the next fight. I get it: it’s hard to make a song “exciting and fun” if the singer’s whimpering. But even when he gets down to the words themselves, the pitch-up on the back half of “sorry” suggests a young man whining at a closed door. BLOOD and Skrillex give the track both lightness (that magnificent synth-horn line) and import (the “ambiguous” cooing and the LCD-reminiscent programming bongs). It’s a neat trick, but not as good as the video’s: about a dozen dancers, to a woman confident and sly, secure in the knowledge that Justin’s not showing up.

Andy Hutchins: In the context of the immaculately-choreographed, semi-sarcastic instant classic video — shouts to Parris Goebel, boss of all bosses — this is a [10], with the spot-on tropical house production, an aural frozen margarita, and ticking percussion getting the moves they deserve. Even without that documented proof that truly great art can be catalyzed by Justin Bieber, though, this is fantastic pop music: Bieber’s given himself over to the breathy vocals that have been his wheelhouse since puberty of late, and he’s leaning on them here, contrasting those verses with wisely restrained reaches on the hook. The secret weapon? That Steve Winwood-esque horn line that shows up in the hook, something surprisingly well-suited to this sort of song. Who knew Skrillex could do that!?

Katherine St Asaph: I don’t know what part of this is more insufferable: the faux-choirboy vocalise, the faux-brass, the faux-Latin nothing beat, Bieber’s inability to sing a verse without a scuba tank’s worth of breathiness, his inability to play sincere (“you gotta go and get angry at all my honesty,” “I’m missing more than just your body,” “there is no innocent one in this game for two,” all delivered in prime whine), the Bieberedemption Campaign mandating that those are taken as sincere, or the rhetorical smog of market capitulation disguised as poptimism that non-Beliebers have soaked in to excess.

Will Adams: “Sorry,” yet another entry in the Grand Redemption Tour that Bieber’s been on this year, stirs neither my sympathies nor my disgust, but it does stir my patience. His main problem’s almost always been his voice; not even the most “expensive-sounding sounds” — this time pleasing tropicalia vworps — can save the vocal treachery here. In what I can only assume is an effort to mimic Drake, Justin sighs through his lower register, sanding away consonants until the melody is an unappealing breath fog. It’s a weak attempt at sensitivity that’s doubly awful when the (once again) blame-sharing lyrics are considered. Bieber sounds he’s trying to get everyone on his side; sorry, but it’s not working on me.

Reader average: [7.83] (18 votes)

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5 Responses to “Justin Bieber – Sorry”

  1. Hahaha I should be hating this but I don’t. Sucks having latin blood sometimes.

  2. “expensive-sounding sounds” is the phrase of the year tbh

  3. I am baffled

  4. I am josh

  5. I am Liam