Surprise! A Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez duet premiered exclusively on Drake’s OVO Sound Radio on Apple Music’s Beats 1 station on Saturday.
You read that right. Out of nowhere, and at a time when the former “Jelena” are very much not together, the pair can be heard trading bars on the melancholy mid-tempo ballad, uploaded as “Justin Bieber — Strong (feat. Selena Gomez)” at Soundclouds, YouTube, and other platforms not related to either star.
There’s no word on why the surprise new song has surfaced now, but since the original Souncloud has now been removed it appears it’s an unauthorized leak. Neither singer has commented on the track yet, and we highly doubt it will end up on Bieber’s upcoming Purpose album despite rumors.
— Noisey (@NoiseyMusic) October 17, 2015
So what does “Justin Bieber – Strong (feat. Selena Gomez)” sound like; what’s it about; and is it any good?
Obviously, there’s a voyeuristic appeal to hearing the famously complicated ex-sweethearts croon on a track together. While the song won’t be a contender for any Grammys and doesn’t really go anywhere, it’s sensuous, speaks authentically to their past romance, and is something of a grower.
Theme-wise, the “Revival” songstress and “What Do You Mean?” singer get deep on matters of the heart, as they sing about the struggle of a long-distance relationship and longing for their romance to work.
The song sounds as if it could have been a cut on Bieber’s 2013 stripped back, emotional Journals set. On “Strong,” the stripped-down, acoustic guitar-backed jam covers some of the issues that Justin and Selena have either said or hinted lay behind their multiple breakups during their on-off, four-year relationship, which now appears to be over for good.
— Noisey (@NoiseyMusic) October 17, 2015
Noisey dubbed “Strong” as a breakup song. But, in some ways, the lyrics suggest a couple that may not be checking out yet, but are trying to work out if there’s enough feeling there to put off the inevitable. Either way, it’s no party jam.
Selena kicks it all off singing, “There’s no sophistication in my lack of patience / I’m just wishing you were better at communication / As I sit here steady waiting / Wishing that you would call my name in / Wishing I was better with the distance.”
At this point, Justin chimes in with, “Yes, cause you’re the only one I’m really missing / Nobody else would be forgiving / Cause all of the love that you give me (x 3).”
The actress-singer answers singing, “I’m wishing I was better at this damn thing / Cause it’s just been too long and I can’t change.”
Justin repeats that line, before going straight into the chorus. “Gotta be strong / Strong / Strong (x2) / What should I do? / Should I go? / Who do I talk to? / Nobody knows / Who knows the answer to all of my questions? / Will I get over this, over this?”
Here, Selena returns regretfully, “Wishing I was better with the distance,” as the Canadian laments, ” Yes, cause you’re the only one I’m really missing / Nobody else would be forgiving / Cause all of that love that you give me (x 3).”
The Latina starlet tells her former flame, “I’m wishing I was better at this damn thing / Cause it’s just been too long and I can’t change.”
As Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez fans will know, back in March, when the former couple were in one of their on phases, it was revealed that they had been recording duets over a period of time. At one time, a song titled “Unfamiliar” was mentioned as a possible release, but that talk fizzled out along with “Jelena.”
The two began dating in 2010, went public in 2011, had their first breakup in 2012, then many reunions and splits until finally breaking up last September. Fast forward to now, Selena has just debuted atop the Billboard 200 album chart with her well-received new Revival record, while Justin is preparing to drop his highly-anticipated Purpose album on November 13.
After saying she had her “heart broken” and was “pissed about it” Gomez also told the magazine she and her ex-beau are now in a good place.
“At this point, there is no anger,” she continued, “There’s closure in a very good, healthy way. We’ve seen each other. I’m always encouraging, and I am proud of his journey. I think people are making it out to be something that is more tragic than it really was.
Gomez concluded, “We grew up together. We both made mistakes. That’s it.”
Last month, the starlet told Elle magazine that she still considers Bieber a “genuinely” good friend, adding that she didn’t know if they would ever get back together.
“I’ll forever support him and love him in a way,” she added. “We grew up together.”
— The FADER (@thefader) October 18, 2015
— Cosmopolitan (@Cosmopolitan) October 18, 2015
Meanwhile, Justin opened up in his recent cover story with Complex saying, “I moved in with my girlfriend when I was 18… it was a marriage kind of thing… it was just too much at that age. But we were so in love. Nothing else mattered. We were all about each other.”
He went on to explain, “Your full identity can’t be in that person. My identity was in her. Her identity was in me. When stuff would happen, I would lose my freakin’ mind, and she would lose her mind — and we would fight so hard because we were so invested in each other.”
[Images via Getty]