Gut Reactions to Justin Bieber's First Solo Track in Almost Two Years

UD Editors Begrudgingly Listen to "Friends"

Photo: Samir Hussein/Samir Hussein/Redferns via Getty Images
Because we'll undoubtedly be hearing this shit all over the place soon anyway, whether we like it or not, we the editors have decided to be proactive and take a considered first listen to Justin Bieber's first solo track in almost two years, "Friends."

Below, we've shared our thoughts

Najib Benouar: Wow, this is a very good Carly Rae Jepsen song.

Kelly Larson: It sounds like every track ever played at those morning water aerobics classes at all-inclusive resorts in the Mayan Riviera.

Ilana Dadras: This song sounds like a Purpose B-Side—or maybe a song that was cut from Purpose when they realized every track on that album is better, and/or they had to draw the line at 18 tracks with the same message of, "I know I'm kind of a fuck boy, but I'm also still into this in one way or another, which causes me confusion." The refrain "Can we be friends?" is pretty quintessential Bieber, and in the chain of events might be placed between other memorable one-liners "Is it too late now to say I'm sorry?" and "You should go and love yourself." 

No doubt, this song is catchy, but it's also more heavily reliant on its mediocre pop beat than other tracks on Purpose, which hit harder because they showcase his vocal talent or are otherwise more interesting. But hey, I just pressed play again, so...

Sam Eichner: It’s strange listening to a song for the first time knowing that you will, as the result of countless subsequent listens, at bars, on the radio, in the background, have it stuck in your head. There’s a reluctant acknowledgement that any criticism you might have about it now will eventually be hammered into a beleaguered sort of acceptance: Fine, like, I guess I’m into this now?

That said, this feels like a classic Bieber song, in the sense that if you put it on and didn’t tell me it was new I’d probably think it had already existed. It taps into the same engineered vulnerability as “Sorry”--“Can we still be friends?”--and is almost as catchy, will likely become as catchy after another hundred or so inadvertent listens. The beat seems practically pre-remixed. I’m already dreading the point where I know all the words and find myself singing along in the car or, worse, a bar, dancing uncontrollably, simultaneously hating myself and loving life, which ironically seems like the default psychological stance for Bieber himself. 

Hannah Kim: Classic Biebs song: catchy, will probably be played out on the likes of Z100 and 103.5, about Selena.

"Can we still be friends?" No, Justin. Move on. Take a page from Big Sean and come up with something like "I Don't Fuck With You." Now that's a classic.

Geoff Rynex: Sounds like a Justin Bieber song alright. Because it starts with a colloquial faux phone conversation where he asks the person on the other side of the line about her mother and her employment troubles, I found myself actually listening to the lyrics. It didn’t help. By the time, “wondering if you’ve got a body” spills from his mouth, I was drifting off in a rage about how many millions of dollars this collection of sounds is going to make him. All that said, I will definitely willingly dance to this more than once in the next three months.

Thompson Brandes: It's a fine song I guess. I'm just wondering why they opted not to use a shrill, processed vocal sample for the hook like every other pop song seems to be utilizing these—oh wait, ok... there it is. Ok, good.

Hadley Tomicki
: It sucks. Those are my thoughts.

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