Justin Bieber Comes Back Strong With New Single ‘What Do You Mean?’ — Review

Justin Bieber ends a three-year, not exactly famine, but substantial music break with the release of his new comeback single “What Do You Mean,” which saw millions tune in for its official worldwide radio premiere.

The track rocketed to No.1 on U.S. Tunes single sales chart and 53 countries around the world in less than two hours after its official premiere. At press time, (the charts are in flux), it is No. 1 on iTunes in over 60 countries and top five in a further twelve countries. The single reportedly reached No. 1 on U.S. iTunes in seven minutes.

The full song leaked onto the Internet the night before, along with a mesmerizing, skateboarding-centric lyric video, starring Ryan Sheckler, Chelsea Castro, and the Biebs. So far, reactions from the many who pulled all-nighters, appear to love the “fire,” “solid,” “catchy” outing that this new single clearly is.

So how does “What Do You Mean” sound? Two words: Smash bop.

Last month, during an interview with Ryan Seacrest when he announced the single and kicked off a huge, 30-day celebrity-assisted countdown, Bieber was asked whether his upcoming solo track was similar to “Where Are Ü Now,” his collaborative EDM/Pop hit with Jack Ü’s Skrillex and Diplo. The Canadian replied that it was similar, describing the uptempo tune as “summery,” “fresh,” and “poppy but cool.”

The theme? The mystifying nature of female-speak. Even after a first listen, we agree those descriptions are accurate. Bieber’s voice is as smooth as butter as it bounces optimistically over the catchy-as-heck, foot-tapping, bass and beat-driven song, threaded with a synths panpipes/flute riff and metronomic clock ticking in the intro and breakdown moments.

The track is an irresistible mix of pop, R&B, and dance, underpinned by tropical rhythms pulsing through the just under three-and-a-half minute jam. The singer’s easygoing, breathy but tight vocal compliments the radio-friendly record, and seems guaranteed to expand listeners beyond the Biebs’ traditional young female fanbase, just as “Where Are Ü Now” continues to.

In short: it does exactly what a comeback single should do, and we can only imagine the banging EDM club remixes to come.

In addition to a slew of radio interviews that will air in a few hours, Bieber is set to perform “What Do You Mean” live for first-time at the 2015 MTV VMAs on Sunday night. The single is the first cut from his fourth full-length album, which touches down in November. A new, source-citing Billboard preview promises the album is a personally revealing mix of R&B, Pop, and EDM. That album is now available for pre-order on the social app Fahlo. The official Twitter account posted a link after the premiere.

Without question, Bieber’s new bop is a totally different sound from 2012’s high energy pop/R&B-tinged Believe album. Since then, the superstar has taken bolder steps into R&B territory, throwing in guest raps along the way on tracks including “Looking for You” with Migos, “Lolly” with Juicy J and Maejor Ali, as well as “Actin Up” with Asher Roth, Chris Brown, and Rye Rye. Then, 2013’s low-fi Journals project saw Bieber immerse himself deep in confessional R&B that read like a mea culpa to his ex-girlfriend, Selena Gomez.

It’s impossible not to mention the overly-documented Twilight Zone that was the Bieb’s 2013-2014, as the backdrop to that period. But that’s all we’re going to do — mention it. Because today is all about new music and a new era.

A young boy who spent his formative years in the corroded, dream factory of the music business being paraded as a child star then teen idol, inevitably lost his footing. But, fast forward to quotes from the Biebs’ pre-taped interview with New York’s z100 radio host Elvis Duran, which airs today, and it seems the now 21-year-old has come out the other side with a wiser, rejuvenated state of mind.

What Do You Mean” is a insistent grower that’s made for radio. It ushers in another stage in Bieber’s musical maturation and suggests his upcoming album will surprise and move old — and possibly new — fans.

Say it loud: Justin Bieber is back, and the pop/R&B/EDM prince has returned with an undeniable hit.

[Images via Karla Welch for The Wall Group]