Everyone loves a villain.
Justin Bieber has remixed Billie Eilish's hit "Bad Guy," adding his disorientingly high-pitched vocals to the 17-year-old's slightly terrifying bop.
This seems like a clear attempt on Eilish's part to skyrocket her most popular song to the top of the charts, and it just may work. Unfortunately, Bieber's voice is sexy, even though you kind of wish he had stopped singing around 2012 because watching his innocence fade slowly over time felt like a crushing blow on top of our own coming-of-age angst; also, the fact that Eilish was a superfan and now they're collaborating is pretty satisfying for any former Belieber. This version is actually better than the original, maybe because you can feel both singers' egos leaking through the sound, saturating you with a creepy, glossy feeling that reeks of money and child-star nihilism.
In many ways, "Bad Guy" is the perfect song for Bieber right now. He's been the subject of a great deal of criticism for being, well, a bad guy—from collaborating with abuser Chr*s Br**n to defending Scooter Braun against Taylor Swift's tearful accusations to being slammed by Emma Portner, a former choreographer who argued that he was a sexist asshole who paid his staff next to nothing. This song feels like Bieber throwing up his arms and shouting, "Well, f**k it, I guess I am a terrible person, but you're still going to buy my music and listen to my songs, because part of you also feels like you're a terrible person, and there's something cathartic about listening to someone else fully own their sh**tiness." Well, maybe not the last part—he may well also be thinking, "This is all in the name of Jesus."
Still, in this world where climate change is literally preparing to decimate us all and most of us are doing nothing, it's not hard to feel like a terrible person. At least when New York City goes under, we'll have Billie Eilish and Justin Bieber to bop along to until the waves go over our heads.
Billie Eilish - bad guy (with Justin Bieber) [Audio] www.youtube.com
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The quarterback said "I will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America or our country." And then he tried to apologize. And only made it worse.
Drew Brees, a man who makes literally millions of dollars for throwing a ball, has come under fire for insensitive comments he made about NFL players kneeling during the National Anthem to protest police brutality.
"I will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America or our country," Brees said in the interview with Yahoo Finance. He clarified that this was in part because he envisioned his grandfathers, who fought in World War II, during the National Anthem. He continued, saying, "And is everything right with our country right now? No. It's not. We still have a long way to go. But I think what you do by standing there and showing respect to the flag with your hand over your heart, is it shows unity. It shows that we are all in this together. We can all do better. And that we are all part of the solution."
This isn't the first time Brees made it clear that he cares more for the idea of a make-believe unified America than he does for actual human lives. In 2016, he criticized Colin Kaepernick for kneeling during the anthem, saying it was "disrespectful to the American flag" and "an oxymoron" because the flag gave critics the right to speak out in the first place.
Colin Kaepernick kneeling in protest of racist police brutality
Of course, the flag's alleged ideals have been proven to only be applicable to wealthy, white men—men like Brees. Sure, his grandfathers did a noble thing when they fought under the US flag during WWII, and no one, including Kaepernick, has ever said that sacrifice isn't worth respecting. Thanks to the sacrifices of many people (including the enslaved Black backs upon which this country was built, including the scores of routinely abused Black soldiers who fought for American lives), America has offered opportunity and peace for many, many people. In particular, Ole' Glory has been very kind to men like Brees: rich, white men who still control the majority of the power and the wealth in the United States.
But what about the rest of us, Drew? What about George Floyd whose neck was crushed by a police officer who kneeled on him so casually that he didn't even take his hand out of his pocket? What about Ahmaud Arbery, who was shot for the crime of being Black and going for a jog? What about Breonna Taylor, a black woman who was murdered by police in her home in the middle of the night for a crime that had nothing to do with her? What about Tony McDade, Drew–have you heard his name? Have you heard about the 38-year-old Black trans man who was gunned down in Florida last week? Do you understand why these people's family's may harbor just a bit of disrespect for your precious flag?
Is it possible for you to realize, Drew, that your wish for "unity" is not a wish for progress, but a wish to maintain the status quo? When you call for unity under the American flag, you're talking about your flag, the flag that represents a long, sordid history of racial oppression and violence. There is no unity where there is no justice. When you say that "we are all in this together," what you're saying is that we all have roles to play in the version of society that has served you so well. For your part, you'll be a rich, white man, and for Black people's part, they'll continue to be victims of state-sanctioned murders– but hopefully more quietly, hopefully in a manner that doesn't make you uncomfortable?
When you say, "We can all do better. And that we are all part of the solution," what you mean to say is that POC and their allies are at fault. Sure, you probably agree that Derek Chauvin took it a bit too far, and you probably feel a little self-conscious that he's brought all this "Black rights" stuff up again. But when you say "all," you place blame on the victims who are dying under a broken system. And what, exactly, do you expect POC to do differently, Drew? Ahmaud Arbery was just out jogging, and still he died. George Floyd was just trying to pay a cashier, and still he died. POC and their allies try to peacefully protest by marching in the streets or taking a knee at a football game, and still white people condemn and criticize. Still the police shoot.
After much criticism, Brees did attempt an apology on Instagram, where he posted a hilariously corny stock photo of a Black and white hand clasped together. His caption, though possibly well-intentioned, made it even clearer that his understanding of the movement for Black lives is thoroughly lacking.
Highlights of the "apology" include his immediate attempt to exonerate himself from culpability, claiming that his words were misconstrued, saying of his previous statement: "Those words have become divisive and hurtful and have misled people into believing that somehow I am an enemy. This could not be further from the truth, and is not an accurate reflection of my heart or my character." Unfortunately, Drew, white people like you are the "enemy," as you put it, because by default you are at the very least part of the problem. No one is accusing you of being an overt racist, Drew; no one thinks you actively and consciously detest Black people. But your lack of empathy, your apathy, and your unwillingness to unlearn your own biases are precisely what has persisted in the hearts and minds of well-meaning white Americans for centuries.
Next, you say, "I recognize that I am part of the solution and can be a leader for the Black community in this movement." No, Drew. Just no. Black people don't need white people's savior complexes to interfere in their organizing; what they need is for us to shut up and listen. What they need is for us to get our knees off of their necks.
Finally, you say, "I have ALWAYS been an ally, never an enemy." This, Drew, is suspiciously similar to saying, "But I'm one of the good whites!" The fact of the matter is that feeling the need to prove your allyship is not about helping a movement; it's about feeding your own ego. Not only that, but your emphasis on "ALWAYS" does a pretty good job of making it clear that you don't think you have a racist bone in your body and that you have taken great offense at any accusations to the contrary. I have some news for you, Drew: Every white person is racist. Sure, the levels vary, and while you may not be actively and consciously discriminating against POC, you have been brought up in a racist system, and your implicit biases are as strong as any other white person's. Your job now is to unlearn those biases and confront those subtle prejudices in yourself and in other white people. Maybe the first step in doing so is just shutting your f*cking mouth about kneeling at football games. Maybe you should even consider taking a knee yourself.
For other non-BIPOC trying to be better allies, check out one of these 68+ anti-racism resources.
Pop singer-songwriter takes action for mental health awareness in latest single.
Singer-songwriter Elizabeth Mencel, better known by her musical moniker ROZES, continues to take a stand in her latest single "Call Me," which thematically tackles the hardships of mental health and promotes mental health awareness.
This past year the Philadelphia native has been a part of numerous movements and initiatives, including Alicia Keys' She Is The Music camp and The Women's March, which featured her single "Halfway There" as this year's anthem.
PopDust was able to talk with the singer about taking a stand for inclusivity, female empowerment, and what she hopes her latest single "Call Me" will inspire for her fans.
Since last summer, you've been a part of many incredible projects and campaigns. What has been the highlight of your year so far?
Oh gosh that's so hard to pick!
I'll make it easier then! What are the top three highlights?
I would definitely say working at the She is The Music camp with Alicia Keys was a career highlight. Then I would for sure say the Women's March, which was an amazing event. My song "Halfway There" was written for a fight so its connected to the cause and people picked up on the message. I think for the last highlight, I've been seeing my songs lately on shows like World of Dance and American Idol and that's been really cool for me! These are all shows that are so obviously music heavy and for however many millions of songs that these people could've picked they chose mine and I think that was something very validating.
What was it like working with an all-female team during the Alicia Keys camp? How did you get pulled into the project?
I was asked by Universal Music Group because they were the ones that helped Alicia put the camp together. They were recruiting women who were in New York at the time and I was home and it was the perfect storm. Being able to work there with Alicia Keys—I mean she's always been one of my biggest idols, and since being in the industry I've had to numb myself to meeting people. You don't ever want to be starstruck, you gotta always be cool. So I think being invited to something that my idol was putting on in and of itself was a dream come true. Being able to chat with her and talk to her about music and to be able to sit down and share her struggles and how they relate to us as women was just so crazy. When I was working with the team that I worked with for my song "Call Me," Alex Hope and Sophie [Frances], it was so educating for me because I was realizing that as far as inequality in the industry, we have to be the ones to set the example. We have to be the ones putting women in the room. Every session that I'm in is mostly men and I'm the artist, so it should be my say to say "I need more women in this room." I think the process of that camp was very eye-opening as a female empowerment supporter, as a feminist, as a human, it was very eye-opening. I've always been in situations where it's hard being a woman in the industry and then I also saw how I was the problem by not having enough women in the room. I think the camp was amazing. Being able to sit down with other female writers and being able to connect on a level that you don't get too often with male writers was awesome. That's what opened up the vulnerability for the track "Call Me."
"Call Me" obviously grew out of a vulnerable place and has a clear message for listeners to pick up on about mental health, but what does the song mean to you?
As a person who has always struggled with mental health—I mean I've struggled with it my entire life and I still don't know how to exactly cope with in all the right ways—but what I think one of the things that have definitely helped me has been knowing that people are there for me and get what I'm going through. They are the people who make me understand that I'm not isolated and I'm not so alone. I wanted to portray someone saying, "You know you can call me," because it's such a huge sentiment. It means so much. Whether it's me saying it to someone else or someone saying it to me, to have that on the table is such a huge, healthy pathway for people struggling and having a tough time.
What line from "Call Me" speaks to you the most?
I think my favorite part of the song is the bridge. There's a line that goes, "you're wide awake and everybody else is sleeping," and I think that can mean so many things. It can be literal, meaning you are wide awake while the rest of the world is typically sleeping or it can mean that you are the only one who feels this emotion while everybody else has it turned off. For me, that's an important line because it shows how far the isolation can go.
Other than listening to songs like "Call Me" and using whatever platforms available to promote supporting mental health awareness, what else do you think fans can do to continue the discussion of mental health?
I'm not an expert but I think a big part of it is to be honest with yourself and how you're feeling and accepting your own emotions. I noticed a lot in myself and in others that we have a hard time admitting to ourselves when it's more than just a feeling and it is actually anxiety or depression. It's more than just sadness or a sad day. I think the biggest thing is to just admit it to yourself and allowing yourself to open up about it.
Speaking of starting important conversations and being more real, your song "Halfway There." Did you write the track with the intention that it would be used for the Women's March or was it picked up later? How did it end up being the anthem that it is now?
I was in Nashville working on my next album and I found out that my sister-in-law was diagnosed with breast cancer. She's really young and for me, it created a lot of anger at whatever the universe had in store for that kind of fight. I was just so upset and couldn't understand my emotions. When I was going into the studio, I really wanted to write about this and I didn't know how I was going to do it and I didn't know it was going to be that day, but for some reason, I just knew we were going to do something. One of the co-writers on it is my brother, the one not married to my sister-in-law with cancer, and we were just in the same boat of dealing with this news and we just started writing and it became a song about a fight. It was inspiring the way it came about because my sister-in-law has a way of inspiring fight in others, so it was kinda ironic the way it got picked up by the Women's March. I was happy that this song that stemmed around the fight of a woman could be relatable and translate.
I know throughout your career you've had the opportunity to work and collaborate with many artists including The Chainsmokers and Galantis, for this next record and for the future in general, who would you love to work with?
I have a lot of songs lined up for the summer and I have a lot of collaborations ready to go. I'm still so open to collaborating with anybody. I don't think I have my eye set on anyone in particular. I'm just leaving all lanes open. I think it's an exciting time and I feel like I have an identity with my music right now. I feel like I'm accepting of whatever comes my way.
How would you describe the direction you're taking with your next album? How would you describe the identity that you've found in your music?
I think that right now I'm saying things that are important to me. I'm standing up for things that need to be stood up for. I think that right now with my music I'm really trying to send a message and I'm really trying to unite a lot of people and gain an understanding from other people. I think it's really important for my fans or really anyone that listens to my music to understand who I am and so I'm making sure that through my music it's very obvious. it's an exciting time because I used to write about a lot of love and, ya know, I was younger so I was going through a lot of breakups and whatever and ended up boxing myself in heartbreak. I think that now that I've opened my box, I'm becoming a more mature writer.
What are some of the things that you do want to be writing songs about now that you've developed into a more mature and self-aware songwriter?
I really believe in free love and that people can love who they want. I'm a huge ally for the LGBTQ+ community and I'm obviously a huge women's rights activist and believe in equality for all. I'm just overall a very inclusive person and believe that everybody deserves to be seen and heard equally regardless of who you love or what gender you identify as or what color your skin is, so I think with my music I just really want to be inclusive and kind of send that message. I also want to be very open with my mental health so that I can maybe help somebody else in their times of struggle and maybe they can use my music to share with others, to show how they're feeling. I guess I just want to be able to be a voice for people who are too afraid to speak.
Hypothetically, in this stage of your career if you could have the ultimate dream show with three other acts on the bill, who would you pick?
Oh man that's a good question, this is tough. Probably Lizzo, she would definitely be one. Ideally, I'd love to tour with all women but it'd be so awesome to tour with Twenty-One Pilots because they are electronic based but they bring in all these other genres that they kinda dip in to.
That would definitely be a cool show to see! Anyone else to fill out the last space on the bill?
It's so funny, but when I think of this question I think of the logistics of it. Like, if I tour with them would the fan base and the sounds match up? There's so much that goes into thinking about this question! I think my last space would go to Charlie XCX or Tove Lo.
Check out ROZES's latest single "Call Me" below!
Call Me www.youtube.com