Justin Bieber set more than a few fans’ hearts aflutter with “PYD,” his sexy, R&B slow jam featuring R. Kelly. The original artwork for the single was a tad basic however. Now, the 19-year-old seems to have decided showing some skin in an alternate cover couldn’t hurt the numbers.
The picture of a shirtless Bieber navel gazing with a gold chain in his mouth and the barest hint of tushi on show, sent waves of appreciation rippling through the blogosphere.
The teen star uploaded the not so new cover (the photo is a take from Justin’s Teen Vogue shoot earlier this year) to Instagram on Thursday, four days after dropping “PYD” in his Music Mondays series.
Within 10 hours of release, the single shot to No.1 on iTunes US and 36 other countries, making it one of the most successful songs in the singer’s 10-week-10-song campaign.
Since early October, Bieber has been showcasing lyrically raw, relationship-themed R&B in a run that ends days before the debut of Believe, the Jon M. Chu directed movie sequel to 2011’s Never Say Never.
Like “Hold Tight,” another Music Mondays tune, “PYD” contains highly sexualized imagery and is an emphatic step in the singer’s now complete transition from child moppet to young adult artist.
Among many critics, Slate’s Aisha Harris and freelance music journalist Brent Faulkner, also noted Bieber’s transformation, in essence agreeing the pop phenom has cleared the jump to riskier, more liberated musical shores. Where he goes from here is anyone’s guess.
In a watershed interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Justin said of his Kelly duet, “I was going for a modern Boyz II Men sound. I’m really influenced by R&B, but I love everybody — from Michael Jackson to The Beatles to, like, Led Zeppelin and Korn.”
The Canadian also revealed the extent of his musical ambition, with a little words-in-mouth assist from his manager Scooter Braun.
“Michael Jackson didn’t do Off the Wall until he was about 23,” Bieber told THR. “Bad, not until he was, like, 25 [in fact, Jackson was 29]. I have all the time in the world.”
Braun, perhaps unwisely considering the sacred cow Jackson represents, added, “Justin’s Thriller is yet to come.”
According to producer Jason ‘Poo Bear’ Boyd, who worked on every Journals song for the Music Mondays in some capacity and wrote “Bad Day,” spoke to Pop Wrapped about the singer’s musical direction and in-progress upcoming album, slated for 2014.
“First of all, Justin’s first love is [truly] R&B. Then, his fans love it and are taking it so well. There were a lot of executives that weren’t sure how people were going to take [his new sound],” Boyd said.
Later in the piece the producer added, “His next album is going to be more world-driven, like ‘Man In the Mirror,’ and just being aware. People need to know that Justin cares about the problems in the world. He wants to be a part of the solution. That’s where we are right now, creatively.”
And there were more gifts besides “PYD’s” shirtless cover. The song now has a lyric video.
Check it out below and experience Bieber and Kelly’s location fixated love-fest one more time.