This past week on The Bachelor, television’s longest running dating show, Bachelor Peter Weber was talking to a contestant and said the phrase: “I love how intentional you are.”
Empty, sweet nothings, such as “we have such a strong connection,” or sob story responses (“I love that you told me that”), permeate enough to fill out a Bingo card per Bachelor episode. One should question how happy a couple can truly be if the conversations always consist of talking points like, “I feel really good about how our relationship is progressing.”
Talking about love is hard, especially when you have to vaguely discuss how you’re feeling to eight women you’re dating at the same time, but these kind of wiki-How phrases ooze all over impressionable young daters, and it makes love look not just lazy, but robotic.
On Changes, the new album by the newlywed pop star Justin Bieber, the young singer speaks as if marriage has transformed and enlightened him in the same way that a greeting card borrows language birthed from John Legend’s “All of Me” or John Mayer’s “Your Body is a Wonderland.”
“Our feelings, they go deep, deeper than the touching,” he sings on “Habitual,” later adding, “never get enough, I’m only for your consumption.”
It’s the kind of cringe-worthy language that comes out of what the internet calls “Wife Guys“—husbands that craft their personalities to cultivate an online presence by solely posting about how much they love their wives. The Wife Guy’s image online profits from this act, and he views himself a hero for simply being so devoted. What appears as “Wow, look how great my wife is,” mutates into “Wow, I’m so great for loving my wife.”
“Don’t nobody else deserve my eyes,” Bieber sings on “That’s What Love Is,” “It’s a blessing that you’re in my life/Make me look even better when we shine.”
Every thought, or every lyric about Bieber’s wife, Hailey, is in service to Bieber himself. When the lyrics aren’t just silly, such as randomly inserting a big word out the T.I. playbook (“Let’s get it in expeditiously”), or questions like “Do you wanna look at me forever,” there’s nothing tangible about what he loves about his wife save for how she makes him feel.
Pitchfork‘s Jayson Greene noted that in Bieber’s “making of” documentary, Seasons, “Hailey is almost exclusively discussed in terms of what she provides for Justin,” citing a quote from manager Scooter Braun where he says, “She’s so caring, so giving, so loyal.”
“That kind of anti-erotic ownership language permeates Changes,” the Pitchfork continues. “If Bieber whispering ‘You got that yummy yum’ doesn’t make you want to dart away like a cat up a tree, maybe his ecstasy over ‘the way you motion, motion in my lap’ will do it.”
Musically, it’s a perfectly pleasant album, with Bieber’s falsetto gliding over Poo Bear’s contemporary production, but even the mildest of close reads inducing wincing. “When you come around me, treat me like you miss me” he says on “Come Around Me,” “…all I want for you is perfection.”
What do you think? Drop your thoughts in the comments below.