Justin Bieber has been on a roll lately. After swiftly transitioning from his lackluster Changes era with duets with Ariana Grande (“Stuck With U”) and Chance the Rapper (“Holy”), the “Yummy” singer has offered up another taste of his upcoming new album.
“Lonely,” a heartbreaking ballad, features some of the most vulnerable and emotional songwriting of his career. Produced by benny blanco (“Eastside,” “I Can’t Get Enough”), the piano-centric ballad sees Justin reflecting on the many stages of his career and the many lives he has lived. The film explores the sad paradox of being a worldwide household name and still feeling like no one genuinely cares about you beyond what you can offer as entertainment. Justin really opens up in the stunning second verse where he sings: “And everybody saw me sick/And it felt like no one gave a shit/They criticized the things I did as an idiot kid.” From peeing in mop buckets and leaked nude photos to struggling with drug abuse and Lyme disease, Justin has suffered experienced a lifetimes’ worth of events in the public eye. “Lonely” beautifully encapsulates the precarious position that we put our celebrities in. His emotive vocal performance ups the urgency of the song without feeling melodramatic — a difficult line to toe.
The haunting chorus melody is trademark Finneas, who also has a production credit, in the way that it balances silence with tender vocal delivery. Justin opts for a yodeling-esque vocal style in the chorus which is initially off-putting and irritating. It’s not the most pleasing sound, but it does convey that wounded emotion that Justin is looking for. At around two and a half minutes, the minimalism of “Lonely” is a nice contrast to the choir-backed “Holy.” It seems like Justin has found his musical footing ahead of this new record and it truly sounds great.