Monday, May 25th, 2020

Ariana Grande & Justin Bieber – Stuck with U

Happy 2 B?


Leah Isobel: All sales and streams of this gloopy, negging doo-wop track benefit the First Responders Children’s Foundation, which is a lovely gesture that makes it feel unfair to criticize the song. Of course, a coherent response from the American government would obviate the need for such a gesture at all. This makes “Stuck With U” oddly fitting — that U might as well stand for U.S., or us. I just wish the apocalypse sounded better.

Katie Gill: Crack theory: this was a trashed song hastily recorded and released because it can vaguely tie into COVID-19. Some of the lyrics — especially Bieber’s — seem insensitive at best. Everything about the production feels slapdash or rushed. But the biggest factor I’ve got in this theory is how the song is just so bland. It’s a slow dance ballad that you know wanted to be “Like I’m Gonna Lose You” part two, except neither Bieber nor Grande sound sultry enough to move it past mediocre.

Nina Lea: I find this track utterly fascinating. “Stuck With U” nods to the strangeness of this time we’re living in, and yet it also simultaneously normalizes our new reality by sounding exactly like several other completely inoffensive, saccharine, retro-throwback pop songs we’ve heard before. So many of us right now may be wondering — or struggling to imagine — how this historic moment will be understood and remembered, and more than anything else I’ve heard so far, “Stuck With U” has made me acutely aware of how the popular myth-making machine grinds on, smoothing out the complicated present into a cultural memory even as we live mired in uncertainty. Of course two pop juggernauts immediately made a milquetoast ballad pandering to those staying at home, of course this song will be played in the background of quarantine engagement videos and subsequent weddings. “Stuck With U” knows that it is both an ode to the current moment and an inevitable relic. When I listen to “Stuck With U” from the confines of the studio apartment that I’m sharing with the new guy I’m dating, I see the future laid out like a city I’ve not yet been to but whose layout I know by heart: the slow return to a kind of normalcy; the way many things will have been irreparably changed; the eventual think pieces reminiscing, minimizing, glorifying, analyzing the pandemic; “Stuck With U” coming on the radio at 2 a.m. years later after these feelings have long faded, making me nostalgic for a “simpler time” that never really existed even at the moment of its creation.

Wayne Weizhen Zhang: At times, quarantining in my childhood home with my whole family feels unbearably stifling: everyone is on each other’s toes for even the smallest, dumbest grievances. But, in a crooked way, this experience almost feels like stolen time, a secret blessing and privilege to hide at home before being fully engulfed in the adult world. Case in point: my sister and I have not been able to celebrate my mom’s birthday or Mother’s Day at home for the past five years, and this Mother’s Day, we spent an entire day doing nothing but baking a cake and watching the whole third Star Wars trilogy. When else in the world could I have had time to do that? It’s this recent reflection on my own privilege that has helped me start to appreciate the message behind “Stuck with U.” The song is an argument to make the most of the times, even despite all the chaos and pain in the world, and the picture of domestic bliss presented in the video is too wholesome to view through a cynical lens. 

Jackie Powell: The sentiment is admirable here. I appreciate the philanthropic attempt and am turned off by the pettiness of the Billboard chart debacle with 6ix9ine, but I’m not sure if this is a song that makes me “feel good.” Instead, I might want to waltz? Will teens who couldn’t go to prom actually be dancing to this? A new COVID wedding song, who knows? I guess what’s bizarre about this quarantine heart song is that it doesn’t mirror a lot of feelings associated with living through a global pandemic. There isn’t enough of a struggle. But maybe is that the point of this track’s radical acceptance of our current situation? This must be what happens when Scooter Braun is the first listed writer on this single. *Shrug* The best part of the heavily cameoed– “Imagine”-esque video was seeing Liz Gillies, because who doesn’t love Jade West or a faux-Cady Heron. But besides Gillies, the only redeemable quality about this track and video are singer/songwriter Blush’s backing vocals on each pre-chorus’s “oh, oh, oh, oh (ooh)” and the feathery outro. After many listens, this track isn’t one that will be stuck on my mind. I guess we are just stuck with it.

Alfred Soto: Grande sings with a natural empathy; she times the release of those voice cracks like a pro. But she’s selling horseshit. I don’t care how moony the idea of spending months cooped up with your beloved sounds — I know high schoolers tired of the quarantine who don’t reminding of what passed for fidelity in pop lyrics. And being stuck with Justin Bieber is like being stuck with the clap.

Reader average: [3.33] (3 votes)

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8 Responses to “Ariana Grande & Justin Bieber – Stuck with U”

  1. as if the song wasn’t bad enough i can only hear “stuck wii u, stuck wii u, stuck wii u” lol

  2. I’ll say this, at least it kept 6ix9ine from going to #1 on billboard

    But seriously I thought we got past the need for Meghan Trainor songs at this point

  3. Horrible song.

    On an unrelated note, why is it going soo much slower than normal? Don’t we all have more time to listen to music now that we are stuck at home?. I am not complaining btw I just feel that you guys are missing out lots of new releases

  4. speaking for myself, i’ve been pretty stressed as of late with all the back and forth re:reopening – i don’t live at home but my family’s in georgia so they’re really feeling it and i’m worried about them. it’s harder to make space for writing and music, even if it’s fun – my brain wants familiar things these days.

  5. Hey Lu – feel free to drop some suggestions in a comment!

    I certainly have more free time at the moment (no commute to work!) but because it’s kind of depressing I’m also seeking solace in pop I already know and love… somehow it seems hard to work out what’s good at the moment. I suppose it’s also good that people have more time to read us even at our reduced schedule :)

  6. Well I certainly wouldn’t mind seeing some takes on “Forever” or “Claws” by Charli XCX!

  7. In lieu of new stuff, there’s always old stuff… Don’t know if pointing it out will be universally appreciated, but I recently fixed the links to the old Stylus Magazine Jukebox, placed at the bottom of the left-hand sidebar (‘This Used To Be Our Playground’). So if you want to go back in time to 2004-2007, there’s that.

    Technically the earliest iteration I can see was from 2003, beginning with Clay Aiken and “Crazy in Love”. I’ve not actually read through it, but be assured that these will prove to have been Different Times™

  8. Hi Carson, we’ll be covering one of those songs very soon.

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