Why ‘What Do You Mean’ Is Justin Bieber’s Deepest Song Yet
At 7 AM this morning, the star-studded countdown announcing the arrival of Justin Bieber’s new single “What Do You Mean?” reached its inevitable conclusion and all anybody wanted to know was would the track live up to the hype?
At first, I wasn’t so sure. The song seemed like a watered down version of “Where Are U Now”, completely devoid of meaningful lyrical content. Still, there was something catchy about it – something that made me keep playing the single on a continuous loop. After my 18th or so listen, not only was I ready to shout my love for “What Do You Mean” to the heavens, but I was surprised to discover that it just might be Justin Bieber’s deepest song to date.
Unsurprisingly, the song begins with the tick tock of a clock. Just like the rest of us, Justin Bieber has been waiting, asking himself over and over again, “what do you mean?” Only while we were waiting for him to tell us, he was waiting for his girlfriend to tell him.
‘What Do You Mean‘ finds Justin Bieber at the end of patience. Even though he’s “trying to compromise” with his bae, she can’t seem to make up her mind about how she feels. While the Biebs has played the part of patient boyfriend for the past 30 days, now he tells his beloved that “she’s running out of time.”
Like any man in the grips of a heartbreaking situation, Bieber has a limited range of thought on “What Do You Mean,” and the song sees him returning again and again to the central question: “what do you mean when you nod your head yes, but you wanna say no / when you don’t want me to move, but you tell me to go / what do you mean?”
At just under three and a half minutes, there’s no resolution to the question. We don’t know what the she in question finally decides, which is probably because as much as the song is directed at a fictional love interest, the real ‘she’ in question is just a stand in for a much larger audience: the world.
What Justin Bieber really wants in “What Do You Mean” is to win his audience back. When the Biebs first released “Baby,” the whole world loved love, but recently…not so much. These days, the Biebs has turned into the pop star we all love to hate, and despite his last album being packed with a handful of great songs, it didn’t sell as well as he’d hoped.
“What Do You Mean” is Justin Bieber’s last plea for our love: it’s time to make up our minds once and for all, are we going to embrace the grown-up Justin Bieber as the prince of pop, or are we going to continue to punish him for his transgressions?
Listen and answer the question for yourself.