Is Justin Bieber the Bad Guy?


Monday, July 15, 2019

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Billie Eilish released a remixed version of “Bad Guy” from her debut album “WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO?” and it was...questionable (or at least Rolando thinks so). But Fabrizio agrees. It is questionable. The question being, was it really as bad as Rolando says, or does Fabrizio make sense?

Rolando: When Billie Eilish released “bad guy” as a single off her new album it instantly became a favourite among the young star's fans and non-fans alike. With the music video gaining over 375 million views on Youtube since its release; it's no surprise that hit track caught the attention of stars like Bieber, who has recently teamed up with Billie to deliver the ruination of what was one of the greatest songs of 2019 thus far.

The song which introduced us to Billie's iconic “duh”, has been polluted by autotune and cringe-worthy ad-libs.

Sonically, hearing Justin's voice against the beat of “bad guy” was unpleasant. Billie Eilish is known for her alternative sound and unique style, a vocal that is in complete contrast to Justin's signature mainstream sound that we recognize Billie to be the opposite of.

When it comes on to duets, I may not be a musical expert, but as a listener it is more pleasant and enjoyable to artistes whose voices complement each other, it's why her single “Lovely” with Khalid was so good. The two complemented each other well and created a sound that included unique voices (which added contrast) but not so much that the sounds in the song seemed to sit on two opposite ends of a very broad spectrum. Khalid has a very masculine voice, but his style is similar to Billie's, thus creating a satisfying harmony. Contrast is good, but too much contrast is jarring.

Furthermore, a feature with an idol does not a good song make. Justin's ad-libs (which included “skrrt”, how can I take him seriously as an artiste after that?) detracted from Billie's overall image as this out of the box character who has come to defeat the villain that is mainstream pop culture. It's why so many people are drawn to her because she is different. To allow Justin to litter her track with these bits of mainstream pop is to create doubt in the minds of the people who thought that Billie's music was incorruptible and who have, in their minds, set Billie apart from all the other popular musicians.

My gripes with the remix do not end there, Justin's lyrical content was sub-par and underwhelming. When you compare the two verses, Billie offers a more creative use of words and narrative that is easy to follow. Justin's verse is, unfortunately, the epitome of the lethargic attitude present in lyrical content today. There is no depth, no effort and when compared to Billie's verse it ultimately falls short and by falling short, it drags the track down with it.

Justin, having just timed out on his fifteen minutes of fame from his track “I Don't Care” with Ed Sheeran, was clearly making yet another attempt to salvage the remainder of his relevance among a younger audience and in doing so he effectively ruined this song for me.

Fabrizio: Before I even start…

Producer: Justin, how much auto-tune do you want?

Justin: Yes.

Billie: Duh

Back to the topic. To talk about this, you have to know something. This track was not just about monetary gain. It was a major milestone in Billie's career. Billie has been a fan of Justin Bieber since day one. In fact, if you look at the Remix Song cover, you see a younger Billie with several JB posters in the background. This was more than a song, it was an accomplishment for Billie.

With that out of the way, I can accept the fact that Justin should have never ruined Billie's 'duh', but overall the song isn't that bad… like duh. The song features a more masculine sounding Justin and the auto-tune isn't so detracting. If we have the tech to make us sound better, why not use it? To me, the auto-tune adds to the effect of a bad guy persona that allows JB's voice to be more contrasting to Billie's sweet irony of musical melody. Contrast is the soul of a duet. It is the vocal veracity that fills the frame of what was once a lonely solo. Younger Justin on this track with his high-pitched voice would have been a tragedy. Older Justin is majesty, the crown jewel of 'bad guys' alike. Like Justin's voice, his lyrics served as a dual personality to the song, only making it more intriguing. If someone like Khalid was on this track, it would really detract from the 'Bad Guy' vibe. Justin was probably the perfect pick since his 'lethargic flow' brings out the character.

Furthermore, the track was augmented by JB's production team. The ad-libs may be a little too much for some, but in this day of trap, that's what cages our listeners, okurr? Sometimes a little mainstream flavour adds to the underground flow of 'different' artistes. I'm just bummed that a rapper wasn't also added to this remix(as much as Rolando disagrees). And yes, Billie's sound is alternative, but there isn't anything wrong with 'alternatively' turning to a sprinkle of pop culture every now and again. I have listened to her albums. I've been a fan even when her song 'Ocean Eyes' were merely puddles of popularity. Even her older albums employed similar pop and even rap influences (listen to &burn with Vince Staples). So I'm glad she finally got the chance to be on a track with one of her biggest inspirations while dropping a banger. When we all fall asleep, where does Billie go? To this remix. It is everything she 'dreamed' about. P.S. - That part about JB salvaging his career… 'I don't care'.

In conclusion: I guess it's safe to say that Rolando and Fabrizio agree to disagree on this one. Music taste varies, and it's really up to you to decide whether you like a track or not.

-- Rolando Alberts and Fabrizio Darby

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