Just one day after releasing his new album Purpose, Justin Bieber rolled out 13 videos for the short film Purpose: The Movement, directed by the acclaimed Parris Goebel. The 45-minute film was first aired at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Friday during Bieber’s three release shows.
“Mark My Words” kicked off the rollout on the superstar’s VEVO account on Saturday. The clip starts with a back-facing Justin Bieber walking backstage at Wango Tango earlier this year, while his voiceover recalls his state of mind during his turbulent 2013-14.
So we see Bieber as a 19-year-old being restrained by a bodyguard, while verbally facing down a British photog. A cut to the heartthrob standing in a breathtaking landscape in Iceland precedes a mashup of bad-old-days stuff; the deposition, the Biebs getting booed during his award acceptance at Billboard’s music awards in 2013, and more.
As these images play, Justin says of his past way of thinking, “I could feel people’s energy, and I also didn’t really care either. Like, I could give two s***s if someone liked me or not.” He goes on, “And that’s where things went bad. I got so involved in me, me, me.”
Another edit shows Bieber crying, as his voiceover says, “You just can’t help feel judged.” The singer is seen being painted on to shoot the cover for his Purpose album. It was designed by Retna, a Los Angles-based street and graffiti artist.
Not surprisingly, given the constrictive level of Justin’s fame, he sounds world weary saying, “Sometimes, like, man, I don’t want to do this any more. ‘Cause once it starts it doesn’t stop for me.”
“MEDIA” in bold, white lettering flashes up against a black screen, before seriously crazy scenes of Justin walking various paparazzi gauntlets while doing promo for his singles and Purpose album, then getting mobbed by screaming teen girls wielding smartphones.
“Just because I, I mean I felt like I lost my purpose for a while,” Justin says amid scenes of hectic fans or press scrums. But — this time, with the sense that he is now approaching these difficult elements with a distinctly spiritual attitude.
He continued, “Now I feel like I found my purpose, and I just want to bring that hope to people, and that light to say, ‘Hey, you might have lost your purpose, or maybe you’re searching for your purpose.’ But, purpose is so important.”
Amid images of Bieber playing shows in Europe during his recent promo run, fans crying at the sight of him, outstretched hands reaching for the singer, and cuts of him mingling and taking selfies with tons of fans, he talks about wanting to inspire people to find their purpose by using his fall and rise (to date) as an example. And, why not?
Justin’s voiceover continues, urging, “I just want people to see that there is hope, and there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and the best is yet to come ahead of you, and not to dwell in the spot that you’re in and know that — ‘Hey, if Justin did it, then I can do it.'”
1. Mark My Words
The Biebs is seen wearing double denim, atop a light wooden piano in a desert, popping and emoting, while channelling Lawrence of Arabia, Michael Jackson, and himself. It’s gorgeous. Iconic. Future facing, and career-building.
He previously confirmed the song is about his former girlfriend, Selena Gomez. Lyrics,” So, you’ve heard it all before / Falling in and out of trust / Trying to rekindle us / Only to lose yourself / But I won’t let me lose you / And I won’t let us just fade away / After all that we’ve been through / I’m a show you more than I could ever say, ” spell out his longing.
2. I’ll Show You
Bieber’s musical soliloquy about feeling dehumanized, judged, and violated by the judgement, scorn, and focus of others, was previously presented with a breathtaking accompanying video shot in Iceland.
This time: fit, young men pop, twist, and dance the thunderous beat of the song to life through the sheer force of their bodies and the fierce direction and choreography of Goebel. It’s exhilarating, if short.
3. What Do You Mean?
New Zealand director and choreographer, Goebel, and dancers from within her Royal Family Mega Crew — also seen killing it in the dance video for Bieber’s “Sorry” — put their moves on the tropical house-pop miscommunication anthem.
Colorful, fun, and quirky, the moves aren’t quite as jaw-dropping as Goebel’s and co.’s work in “Sorry,” but, then that’s quite the bar she raised.
Speaking of which…
Goebel’s work on the dancehall-flavored apology jam is still packing in the views. Here’s why.
5. Love Yourself
The Bieber-Ed Sheeran co-penned acoustic kiss-off to a terrible ex, starts with an off-camera Bieber sharing thoughts on love. And, yes, it sounds as if he’s learned a thing or two.
“It’s all based off of love,” the Canadian is heard musing to someone. “And love isn’t do this for me, and I’m going to do this for you. That’s not what love is. Love is just I’m going to do this for you, ’cause I want to do this for you.”
The visual shows a couple at odds, interpreted through cute modern dance, which fits the black comedy lyrics.
Bieber’s addictive, electro-R&B jam sees Parris and a male partner throw down booty dancing in front of a neon-lit fast food joint and a multiplex. It’s very reminiscent of Michael Jackson’s “Beat It,” with its ’80s stylings, dialogue start, and the colors used.
The two-parter aspect of the video is a neat device and works really well.
7. No Pressure
Bieber, featuring oft-collaborator Big Sean, on a electro-R&B jam about a former lover who messed up, now trying to make a case for himself, gets an effectively minimal black and white visual featuring lead dancer and choreographer, Ian Eastwood, who pops, locks, and dances his way through the song.
Big Sean’s rap is jumped forward and the rapper appears in the video.
8. No Sense
Sexy video for a sexy track. Lovesick Bieber featuring MC Travi$ Scott finds Goebel and co. busting out ferocious street moves in a red-hued garage. Their moves are masculine, as if they’re playing JB’s part in the song.
Scott puts in an appearance for his atmospheric 16, and just as you’re bopping away, it stops dead.
9. The Feeling
Bieber featuring Halsey’s “Am I in love with you or am I in love with the feeling?” question is a disturbing visual in Purpose: The Movement. A man with bendy limbs appears besieged by demons representing his own negative thoughts or impulses.
The dancers’ moves in the video are powerful, sort of violent and edgy. Compelling.
10. Life is Worth Living
Unlike some, I think this is a song the world desperately needs. Suicide remains a major taboo, yet is pervasive.
In the film, this ode to hope, spiritual faith, and life is played out with a girl who “shoots” herself, then encounters an angel in an in-between place who helps her see her potential.
The end scenes where the girl appears to be shifting back into her physical body are incredible, and the last shot where she realizes she was touched by an angel before she made her fatal decision, is totally moving.
11. Where Are U Now?
The banger of 2015. Skrillex and Dipp rightly nods in the video as they basically order a takeout, before the clip cuts to dancers burning it up in a supermarket. Even Justin Bieber’s dancers get to dance.
It feels like a celebration, and it should be. It changed everything.
Well, it isn’t “Earth Song.” The children featured aren’t carrying flowers to put in guns. They’re p—-d as all heck, and, who can blame them, looking at the world?
The kids’ angry dancing and expressions complement this Skrillex-produced EDM workout with fitting fury.
The pop prince closes the film in another desert-set short film. Surrounded by fawning dancers who may represent fans or the world in general, in the end the singer walks off alone into the sun.
Are the spurned dancers a metaphor for choosing spiritual delights over earthly ones? The Biebs’ tweet below seems to be his take on what the song and video means, or part of it.
— Justin Bieber (@justinbieber) November 14, 2015
Numerous reviews of Bieber’s Purpose album recognize it as a classic, or certainly one of the best records of 2015 by a clearly forward-thinking global superstar.
As for Purpose: The Movement, it exceeds Beyoncé’s self-titled “visual album.” That might be treason, but it’s also true. Well done, Goebel and Bieber.
[Images via Vevo / Def Jam]