Justin Bieber scores international number 1 with ‘What Do You Mean’
It’s hard to imagine today’s pop landscape without the presence of Justin Bieber. Not really because his hits have made a big impression on pop culture, but he certainly has become a cultural icon over the years. Although he gets ridiculed a lot, everybody knows who he is and his actions are the talk of the town quite often. Most of this is not music related either, but that might change from now on, as his new single ‘What Do You Mean’ is fastly becoming his biggest hit to date.
Every artist who starts out as a teen idol sooner or later gets to a tricky point in their career where they have to find a connection with a more mature audience, as the teenage girls get older. Justin Timberlake did it once he started a solo career and more recently Nick Jonas showed growth on hit single ‘Jealous’. It seems Justin Bieber, now 21 years old, has reached this point too. I’m not saying the successes he reached so far did not mean anything, but with a huge and loyal fan base, every release will be at least remotely successful. Songs like ‘Baby’ and ‘Boyfriend’ reached top 10 in quite a few countries and his new releases usually hit the first spot on iTunes all over the world, but there were never really any singles with a lasting power, huge airplay and big mainstream recognition internationally. Again this changed with the release of ‘What Do You Mean’.
The track is the first single taken from his upcoming album that should be released at the end of the year and it made a huge impression upon release, thanks to a performance at the MTV VMA’s. It became the fastest single to reach the number 1 on iTunes in 57 countries. It is the first time that he reached the 1st spot in the official charts of the United States (the Billboard Hot 100), United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Ireland, New Zealand and Australia, as well as reaching the top in Sweden, Norway and many more countries. This all obviously shows how he is transforming into an international pop star and not just an idol for teenagers.
This is visible in the positive feedback he received for the catchy and mature ‘What Do You Mean’ as well. Lots of people expressed on YouTube how they are not ‘Beliebers’ but still adore the song that Bieber wrote and produced together Mason Levy and Jason Boyd. The track feels like a natural progression from ‘Where Are Ü Now’ which he recorded with Skrillex and Diplo and marked the first time international radio seemed to take him seriously as a pop star. ‘What Do You Mean’ is an electronic pop track with light influences from the 80’s with a beat that resembles a ticking clock and some flutes as finishing touch. Vocally, he has never sounded better and it is clear that the teen star is slowly but surely becoming a man. The track sounds fresh, contemporary and undeniably strong, just what he needed as a comeback!
If he manages to stay out of trouble and controversy over the coming months and keeps up this more mature attitude and sound, he should be able to fulfill the transformation of a hated teen idol into a celebrated pop star.