Song of the Hour: “Love Yourself” (2015) by Justin Bieber

If I were a high-profile pop star with a long track record of negative publicity, my next move might be to make an album of contrition, à la My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. I probably wouldn’t think that including a song that’s a not-so-subtly veiled “Eff You” to an ex-lover would be such a good look on my mea culpa album. And yet it’s just that kind of song on Bieber’s otherwise humble Purpose that turns out to be its best song. With an appealing acoustic feel and the personally direct lyrics that seem meant for someone specific, “Love Yourself” is an example of the kind of songwriting missing so far from Bieber’s oeuvre. It’s also an expert example of the kiss-off, which, when done right like this, is an extremely satisfying genre of pop.

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