Justin Bieber – I’ll Show You Review
“I’ll Show You”, a pithy title that speaks to the subconscious desires of both Justin Bieber and producer Skrillex. The Canadian pop prodigy is on a mission to transform himself from teenie bopper to adult artist, while the bro-step producer is looking to gain some integrity and prove that there’s an intellect behind the bass drops. Each artist represents the perfect vehicle for the other. Skrillex is Bieber’s gateway to maturity and masculine acceptance. The EDM star, on the other hand, could dine out for a decade on the notion of being the man who made the kid who sang “Baby” cool.
Justin Bieber has to be credited. Rather than chasing overt trends or crassly sexualizing his image, he has decided to progress by making reflective, adult orientated music. Whatever complaints one might have, no one can accuse the Canadian of being a gross parody of a grown up (on record at least). He isn’t downing bottles or popping pills, instead his breakout records feel subdued, pinned down by an existential weight.
“I’ll Show You” is remorseful and surprisingly thoughtful. Drake may have thoroughly explored the concept that being famous and sleeping with a boat load of women is some kind of burden on Take Care, but it is genuinely touching to hear a former child star sigh the words: “this life’s not easy, I’m not made out of steel/Don’t forget that I’m human, don’t forget that I’m real”. Skrillex’s production is not as intriguing. Sly squeaks drift in space and there’s a haunting air of late night recrimination lurking in these inaudibly wonky whispers – but this kind of mid-tempo solipsism is played out to the point of self-parody in 2015.
It’s left, then, for Bieber to elevate “I’ll Show You” above its po-faced R&B peers, and he manages it by injecting a sense of optimism and youthful wisdom into the otherwise desolate verse. The slight key change that follows the instrumental break is brilliant. “I’ve got to learn things, learn them the hard way”; it might sound like an after school special, but this kid is trying to earn his credibility and evolve in real time, under the watchful eye of the 24hr media cycle. Put the millions of dollars and legions of groupies out of your mind for half-a-second and its easy to empathise with this 21-year-old, who’s still learning on the job.
“I’ll Show You” tell us not to expect an album of the year contender when Purpose is released next week, but to be prepared for Bieber to earn the grudging respect of those who happily mocked him just a few short years ago.