Matt Healy, singer and public bong smoker from U.K. indie band The 1975, is slamming Justin Bieber, who he accuses of singing about “nothingness.”
“That new Justin Bieber song,” the frontman moans. “‘What do you mean? ‘When you nod your head yes but you wanna say no’ — can we stop talking about girls who don’t know what they want? Can we stop talking about nothingness? No one’s asking you to inspire a revolution, but inspire something.”
Like others, Healy, 26, seems not to have understood that the lyrics of the Biebs’ “What Do You Mean?” — the lead single from the Canadian’s new Purpose album — address the subject of relationships and, by default, the more serious one of consent.
While some critics, if Lena Dunham can strictly be called that, wrote off Bieber’s “Mean” as “Blurred Lines 2.0,” others see it as a consent anthem and “required listening for for all sexually frustrated young men.”
On listening to the song, which Healy may not have done more than once, it’s clear lyrics such as “What do you mean when you nod your head yes, but you wanna say no?” and “First you wanna got to the left then you wanna turn right/Wanna argue all day, make love all night” finds Bieber tackling the landmine of communication in a difficult relationship.
These matters are far from irrelevant and can become the difference between calling sex an assault or consensual. While Robin Thicke and Miley Cyrus’ foam finger-assisted antics turned the issue into a bad “joke,” Bieber’s “Mean” brought it into public view and inspired an avalanche of debate.
Whether Matt Healy agrees or not, the Biebs makes a strong statement by asking his partner in the song if her “yes” is a real “yes” so that he can be sure she is in agreement with whatever he’s asking.
To put it simply: Clarification lies at the heart of “What Do You Mean?”
It’s probable that Healy’s dislike of the excellent “Mean” is affected by his self-declared dislike of Bieber.
The “Love Me” singer confessed that he was “w***er” to Bieber the last time they met. Healy told the Observer, “I was a w***er to Justin Bieber” at an album launch party they both went to separately. Matt claims, “I think he tried to get me kicked out a couple of times.”
Healy also blasted nameless indie rock bands who pretend “they don’t care” about fame and said he is unashamedly doing everything he can to be a star.
To the Observer he admits, “I sometimes have a fear of wearing that on my sleeve. But there’s no room for shrinking violets, not when everything’s been done.”
Healy continues, “The only thing my generation has left is to do things better than they were done before, and you can’t do that if you want to be an indie band who pretends they don’t care so they don’t get judged on being s**t.”
With respect, Healy’s claim that Bieber’s music amounts to “nothingness” suggests he hasn’t listened to the pop prince’s widely acclaimed Purpose album.
While a lot of the record features mid-tempo, electro-R&B numbers with romantic premises and slam-dunk hits like “Sorry” and “Where Are U Now?” — other songs, such as title track “Purpose,” find Bieber singing about being re-inspired by his faith in God after a well-documented turbulent two-years.
Bieber’s just-dropped Purpose: The Movement short film, features 13 dance videos for each song on the standard edition of the album. The singer explains in documentary-style footage in the opening of the first video “Mark My Words” that he felt like he lost his purpose “for a while” and now wants to inspire others to find theirs as he has.
He declares, “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.”
Purpose songs “Life is Worth Living,” “All In It,” and “Children” also deserve mention. The first sees Bieber mapping a scenario where someone finds the strength to keep living through despair because of faith in God, while the second urges others to commit to their lives with faith. The last asks who is inspiring the next generation to responsible action and “visionary change.”
[Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images]