While I was mildly surprised that I wouldn’t be reviewing Adele’s Hello for the fourth week running, given the immense response it has gotten, it wasn’t too much of a shock to see Justin Bieber back at Number 1. Ever since his return to the pop music industry, tracks from the Canadian’s new album, Purpose, have been topping the charts worldwide.
I have never been part of the large group of music-lovers who despise Bieber. However, I haven’t been a part of the equally large group of Beliebers either, so I’d like to think that I listened to Sorry pretty objectively. It’s got all the makings of a stereotypically successful pop single: Catchy chorus with easy to sing-along words? Check. Upbeat rhythm? Check. Emotional, slightly cheesy lyrics? Check. Perhaps this makes the single slightly run-of-the-mill, but then again, aren’t these all elements which make us relish pop music?
What I really do appreciate about Sorry is the growth it shows in Bieber’s personal musical career. Much like What Do You Mean? And Where Are Ü Now, this track showcases the softer, more mature side of his now husky voice, a far cry from the high-pitched teenager we heard back in 2009. This is a voice I wouldn’t mind hearing more of. Simultaneously, unlike the other hits from Purpose, this track has a dancehall vibe along with the tropical house element, which makes it stand out in the album. The already catchy tune is only made more addictive with the build-up of the drums in the chorus. It’s undoubtedly pleasant to listen to. However, for me, this track seems to lack the instrumental power of his other recent hits: in both What Do You Mean? and Where Are Ü Now, the flute and synth sounds are just as significant a part of the song as the vocals, and they help elevate it to something more than a standard pop single. Sorry seems to lack that focus, with just a standard beat and basic chords backing up Bieber for most of the song.
Lyrically, Sorry doesn’t stand out too much, but doesn’t have phrases worthy of being ridiculed either (although “I hope I don’t run out of time / Could someone call a referee” comes close). What slightly frustrates me about the lyrics is that Sorry is clearly meant to be a song asking the listener for forgiveness, yet certain phrases seem to be almost passive-aggressive in nature. The first words you hear are, “You gotta go and get angry at all of my honesty”, which in itself sounds quite accusatory. Besides, while it’s definitely a very catchy song which you can listen to repeatedly, the upbeat, cheery tone of the song isn’t too cohesive with the repentant lyrics.
Does this track deserve the Number 1 spot? Well, personally, I find one other Justin Bieber song in the Top 10 this week, Love Yourself, featuring Ed Sheeran more unique and substantial, and Adele’s Hello definitely triumphs Bieber lyrically. That being said, Sorry is a far more worthy subject of this column than One Direction’s mediocre Perfect or Drake’s tedious Hotline Bling.
Is it a song that I’ll remember ten years from now? Probably not. Is it the best pop music can do? Definitely not. But it’s a new high for Bieber, and I can only hope that he keeps getting better from here.