Justin Bieber’s “Love Yourself” is a song on the Canadian artist’s fourth studio album, Purpose. With a runtime of three minutes and 53 seconds—the music video runs four minutes, 32 seconds—the song saw release on November 9, 2015, four days ahead of the full commercial release of the album. The song enjoyed a strong commercial performance and reached number one on numerous charts. But just how big a deal was “Love Yourself” for the career of Justin Bieber?
The song itself was written by Justin Bieber, as well as fellow stars Benjamin Levin (better known as Benny Blanco) and Ed Sheeran. The latter’s fingerprints are all over the track, with its almost suppressed sound, featuring just the guitar and Bieber’s vocals. The latter is especially prevalent, though; even if “Love Yourself” clearly has an Ed Sheeran vibe, the vocals and lyrics make sure there’s no question which of the two artists you’re currently listening to.
According to Bieber himself while speaking with Ryan Seacrest, the lyrics of “Love Yourself” hold significance to the artist based on his own history. He explained, “It’s definitely about someone in my past, someone who I don’t want to put on blast,” meaning that he cared about this person enough to both write a song about them while keeping it—and their life—private. However, he does hint that it may have been a girl that his mother, author, film producer, and his early manager, Patricia Mallette, wasn’t particularly fond of. That’s because Bieber added, “It’s cool because so many people can resonate with that because how many women do we bring back that mom doesn’t really necessarily like?” The lyrics certainly reflect this sentiment, with, “My mama don’t like you and she likes everyone.”
But while the song’s true inspiration is a mystery, it has still been heavily scrutinized by critics. Based on the lyrics and video, which features real-life married dancers Keone and Mari Madrid, fans have concluded that this is almost assuredly a song about a breakup. However, the examination has gone even deeper than that. Based on the same content—and keep in mind, the singer is male—at least one person has noted that the song appears to be blaming the breakup on the woman and accusing her of using the man (Bieber, if we assume the past experience that the song is based on happened to him) while also refusing to get over him. Others have claimed it’s a sweet-sounding song that masks the fact that it’s a diss track—no wonder Justin Bieber didn’t want to say who it was about (maybe Selena Gomez?)!
“Love Yourself” has proven a success, hitting number one on charts in the U.S. (including the Billboard Hot 100), Bieber’s home country of Canada, Australia, Denmark, New Zealand, South Africa, and more. Based on sales and shipments, it has also hit double platinum in the U.S. and Canada and even an amazing five-time platinum in Sweden. The song was also received positively by reviewers, many of which were particularly positive about Ed Sheeran’s contributions; perhaps the two stars should consider further collaborations in the future.
And like any popular track, Justin Bieber’s “Lose Yourself” has more than its fair share of remixes on YouTube, many of which have received media attention. Early-2000 hit singer Craig David has tried his hand at an R&B version of the song, while the version by Halsey, who appeared on a different song on Bieber’s Purpose, “The Feeling,” was closer to the source material, but with a little more vulgarity; there’s another word that more commonly goes between “go” and “yourself,” after all. Lastly, Yo Preston and Kelly Kiara did a version that plays on the “breakup” theme of the song, trying to make the song more from the female’s point of view.
Video: Youtube/Yo Preston and JustinBieberVEVO