I Don't Care
June 17, 2019
Todd plays "I Don't Care" on the piano.
ED SHEERAN & JUSTIN BIEBER - I DON'T CARE
A pop song review
Todd: You know what?! It's time to talk about the decline of the male species in Western civilization! [pause] Well, you know, in its pop music specifically, which is what I cover.
Video for Beyoncé - "Hold Up"Todd (VO): Like, as far as dominating the conversation, the women are kicking the men's asses, and have been for a long time.
Todd: I'm not being angry about it for the record. I'm not one of those idiots. It just is what it is.
Video for Miley Cyrus - "Wrecking Ball"Todd (VO): For the entire 2010s, pop music has been dominated by big-name female solo acts. If you imagine the generic music star in the past ten years...
Todd: ...the image you'd come up with probably wouldn't be a Timberlake or a One Direction.
Clip of live performance of Lady Gaga - "Poker Face"Todd (VO): They'd probably look like Gaga or Katy. Or Rihanna, or Taylor, or Ariana.
Todd: It's not an imbalance and misrepresentation...
Video for Migos - "Narcos"Todd (VO): ...like in hip-hop, which has always been male dominated. Or in country music, where...[shot of article: "Female Representation On Mainstream Country Radio Hits New Low"] like my life, all the women suddenly disappeared.
Todd: No, there are dudes making big pop hits. They just feel a lot less, uh...I guess substantial, or relevant. I mean, the Jonas Brothers are back.
Clip of Jonas Brothers - "Sucker"
Nick Jonas: I'm a sucker for
Joe Jonas: All the...Todd (VO): It's a huge comeback for them. An astonishing cap to a long, winding career arc that saw them as [clip of Jonas Brothers - "SOS"] squeaky clean, very religious Disney stars that evolved into adulthood [clip of DNCE - "Body Moves"] with a complete reversal of their image. A sudden transition into overt sexuality, [clip of Nick Jonas - "Chains"] a band hiatus, various strange solo works and side projects, paparazzi-attracting celebrity relationships, stints in other media, and finally culminating with their triumphant reunion and return to the top of the charts.
Nick: I'm a sucker for youAnd I could...
Todd: ...not care less. Just, like, not at all.
Todd (VO): They don't interest me, they've never interested me. I don't get them, I don't even get it enough to be bothered by it. They're just there.
Todd: And that's how I feel about most of the male pop stars of this decade.
Video for Bruno Mars - "Versace on the Floor"Todd (VO): I...like, I guess there's Bruno. I like him. [clip of Drake - "In My Feelings"] And I still do find Drake interesting, but he probably wouldn't want to be called pop. And...he's less and less interesting with each new flood of mediocre songs.
Todd: And who else is there? [images of...] Adam Levine...Post Malone...Shawn Mendes? These are just not exciting artists. But, I'm also starting to think, like, maybe it's not them. Maybe it's me. Like, is it just straight guy bias?
Video for Ariana Grande - "God Is a Woman"Todd (VO): You know, I picked a job where I watch videos of hot female celebrities in skimpy outfits all day. [beat] There are worse ways to make a living.
Todd: But, hey.
Video for Nick Jonas - "Jealous"Todd (VO): Maybe if I'd stared at Nick Jonas' pretty face a little more, maybe I'd pick up more nuances in his music that I missed.
Todd: So maybe I'm not doing my due diligence. Maybe I need to pay more attention. So that's why we're here; I'm challenging myself. There's a new song out right now...
Video for Ed Sheeran & Justin Bieber - "I Don't Care"Todd (VO): ...by arguably the two biggest male pop stars: Ed Sheeran and Justin Bieber. And we're gonna cover it.
Todd: Now, normally I wouldn't 'cause...spoilers, it's boring and bad.
Todd (VO): Doesn't interest me at all, and it...doesn't seem to be gaining any interest of anyone else. It's a complete non-entity.
Todd: It's only noteworthy for being one of [shot of article: "Allow Justin Bieber & Ed Sheeran To Serenade You With Their New Duet 'I Don't Care'! LISTEN!"] several songs by established [shot of tweet from Perez Hilton] superstars that dropped with big hype, and came hard for that #1 spot [clip of WWE match with "Sheeran & Bieber" and OLD TOWN ROAD stamped over wrestlers' bodies] before getting close-lined by "Old Town Road". But, hey, [shrugs] all of that was true of that last...
Video for Taylor Swift ft. Brendon Urie - "Me!"Todd (VO): ...Taylor Swift song. And I did a deep dive on that, even though the only thing interesting about it was the person who released it.
Todd: Now, surely I can do the same for Ed and Justin...
Video for "I Don't Care"Todd (VO): ...two men with long, fascinating career arcs that I've been covering for a long time. [images of Ed Sheeran and Justin Bieber...] And, fun fact, if you combine the two of them, [...and...] you get one Shawn Mendes.
Todd: What's the song about? Well, it's a love song.
Ed Sheeran: I'm at a party I don't wanna be atTodd (VO): See, he's at a party. A boring, miserable party. Probably full of assholes, I assume.
Todd: So, you know, a record industry party.
Ed: I'm at a party I don't wanna be at
And I don't ever wear a suit and tie, yeahTodd (VO): [still image of Ed performing "Perfect" with Beyoncé] Yes, Ed. We know. We know you don't
Todd: But his baby makes things OK.
Ed: 'Cause I don't care when I'm with my baby, yeah
All the bad things disappearTodd (VO): OK, on one hand, I'm like..."Boohoo. You get invited to parties. Poor you."
Todd: I mean, I'm a Youtuber. [image of guy with hoodie tied around his computer] I haven't talked to a real person in two weeks.
Ed: Don't think I fit in at this partyTodd (VO): On the other hand, I have definitely clung to whoever I was dating at the time as a life raft at social situations. So, yeah, I do relate.
Todd: Well, you know, I should relate. I don't. And the reason I don't is...kinda too basic to discuss.
Todd (VO): The production sucks. It's the same kind of stiff-ass airport reggae that defined Ed Sheeran's [clip of "Shape of You"] other terrible pop hit.
Ed: I'm in love with the shape of youYeah, still awful by the way.
Todd: It's just the beat.
Video for "I Don't Care"Todd (VO): It flattens out everything that could've been good about it. It makes it duller than dirt.
Ed: Who wants to fit in anyway?Todd: Uh, you do apparently.
Todd (VO): This is the most middle-of-the-road beat I've ever heard. Musically, you couldn't be trying harder to blend in. [single cover for "I Don't Care (Acoustic)"] I honestly think the acoustic version is better. And y'all know what I think about acoustic songs, so that's saying a lot.
Todd: And it's too early to call this song a flop.
Todd (VO): Maybe it has legs, maybe it doesn't. But, I wouldn't bet on it taking off for that reason. And I didn't think "Shape of You" should be big either, so I could be way wrong, but for...
Todd: ...everyone that I've talked to, the title of the song was also their reaction.
Todd (VO): "Hey guys! What do you think about this song?"
Todd dances in his seat while text appears: "I DON'T CARE"
Todd (VO): So it doesn't succeed on emotion, but its existence does bring out several questions worth exploring. The first of which is this.
Todd: Why the hell is Justin Bieber on this song?
Clip of live performance of "Love Yourself"Todd (VO): Yes, I know they've worked together before. Ed Sheeran wrote one of Bieber's biggest hits, "Love Yourself".
Justin Bieber: Oh baby you should go and love yourselfBut wasn't that weird, too? How did that happen?
Todd: He's a folk singer!
Todd (VO): What other singer-songwriters do you see working with Bieber?
Todd: You don't see the guys from [images of Justin Vernon from...] Bon Iver writing for [...and...] Camila Cabello. The thing about Ed Sheeran is...he seems to me like an extremely ambitious guy.
Clip of live performance of "Castle on the Hill"Todd (VO): If he just wanted to make music people like, he would be doing that [clip of Taylor Swift ft. Future & Ed Sheeran - "End Game"] but, he seems to want more; to be a huge name, make big smash hits, and hang out with other big celebrities. [clip of Ed Sheeran - "Sing"] But he also knows who he is, and he never stops being himself. It certainly made him one of the weirder pop stars of our time.
Todd: And that's his big advantage. There's just not anyone like him.
Todd (VO): And as much as Sheeran clearly aspires to Bieber's kind of fame...
Todd: ...I get the feeling Bieber wouldn't mind being Ed Sheeran either.
Video for Jack Ü ft. Justin Bieber - "Where Are Ü Now"Todd (VO): Bieber's music has only gotten moodier and more downbeat. [shot of article: "Justin Bieber's Mental Health Struggles: 'He's Addressing the Things He Needs to Address' Says Source"] And he started talking recently about his mental struggles.
Todd: In fact, I kinda thought we were about to enter a new, dark era of his career when he announced this track. [shot of tweet from Bieber; unenthusiastically] "It's out. I don't care." I was like, "Wow. He sounds seriously depressed. This'll be interesting." [single cover for "I Don't Care"] Didn't know that was the name of the song.
Video for "I Don't Care"Todd (VO): Nor did I know it was gonna be an upbeat, goof track with a video where he and Sheeran clown around with intentionally terrible green screens and stupid costumes. So...
Todd: ...Bieber's goth period is gonna have to wait I guess.
Todd (VO): But my question is: Why include Bieber at all? What does he add? Sheeran has never needed any help selling his songs before.
Todd: And at first, my thought was, "Well, at least Bieber's not gonna detract from it, because...Bieber is musical tofu.
Video for DJ Snake ft. Justin Bieber - "Let Me Love You"Todd (VO): He's been a popular choice for EDM producers who need a vocalist for years, because you can slide him into anything...
Todd: ...and he'll fit. [single cover for Luis Fonsi & Daddy Yankee ft. Justin Bieber - "Despacito"] Of course he was the one who got to bring "Despacito" to the English-speaking world.
Lyric video for Daddy Yankee & Katy Perry ft. Snow - "Con Calma (Remix)"Todd (VO): Compare that to the awful Katy Perry verse on Daddy Yankee's "Con Calma", where she gums up everything.
Katy Perry: Hola, me llamo KatyWhat the hell are you doing, Katy?
Todd: Now, see, Bieber does his job. He doesn't clash, he doesn't get in the way.
Clip of "I Don't Care"
Justin: We at a party we don't wanna be atTodd (VO): And yet he does clash. Severely trying to sing Ed Sheeran's lyrics. See Sheeran, unlike Bieber, doesn't seem to mesh well with anyone.
Todd: If you need proof of that, check out this picture of [image of...] him and Eminem accepting their gold record for "River".
Todd zooms in on both of their faces as audio for "River" plays
Eminem: Your forbidden fruit
Sheeran: I've been a liar...Todd (VO): I can look at this image forever.
Todd: But, yeah. That's who he is.
Video for...Todd (VO): Like even on "Shape of You", which is Sheeran writing in full, "here's a dumbass pop hook for the radio" mode...he intended it for Rihanna, and it just came out way too Sheerany for anyone but Sheeran to sing.
Todd: His lyrics are too personal and too peculiar for anyone else. And, yes, I include that other song they did together.
Clip of "Love Yourself"
Justin: If you like the way...Todd (VO): Which...I mean, let's face it, it sucked. It just flat-out fuckin' sucked.
Todd: I was reluctant to admit that for a long time, 'cause...
Todd (VO): ...it seems like a good song. Has some of Sheeran's best lyrics.
Justin: My mama don't like you and she likes everyoneThat's the deepest burn I've ever heard. Goddamn.
Todd: So it should work. And yet, it never did for me. And actually, after two hundred listens, it kinda makes my stomach heave.
Todd (VO): Now I've thought about it and thought about it...and eventually, I realized the problem.
Todd: It requires me to sympathize with Justin Bieber. [pause] And I just cannot do that.
Todd (VO): He's always had decent music to lean on. But an acoustic song is something you have to sell with sincerity and emotion. And Bieber just doesn't have it. He's not a soul singer; he has a pop voice for pop songs.
Todd: I've been hearing Bieber's music for a long time, and I cannot name you a single emotion he's successfully conveyed. [image of Bieber belting out] Unless dickishness is an emotion.
Video for...Todd (VO): Like, even on "I Don't Care", which is, you know, just another dumb pop song, Bieber doesn't work.
Justin: I'm crippled with anxietyHe might be a nervous wreck in real life.
Todd: But no one has ever seemed less anxious on record as a singer.
Todd (VO): That's a line that needs to be sung by earnest, delicate Ed Sheeran. [clip of "What Do You Mean?"] Not smooth, self-impressed pretty boy Justin Bieber.
Justin: Don't think we fit in at this partyYou don't fit in. What...
Todd: ...are they not pretty enough for you? Is the room full of 7's?
Todd (VO): Yeah, it seems like Bieber was tapped solely for star power. Clearly, Sheeran's hoping their combined fame will power this limp fart of a song to success.
Todd: It's like pimping out a car with a dead battery. It's still not gonna move.
Todd (VO): In fact, bringing Bieber on makes the song seem worse. It seems like...lack of confidence in this song. 'Cause Sheeran clearly didn't write it as a duet.
Todd: The fact that it is a duet does weird things to it.
Todd (VO): Like, in the first verse, Ed Sheeran uses the word "I".
Ed: I'm at a party I don't wanna be atTodd: And in the second verse, when Bieber comes in, it becomes "we".
Justin: We at a party we don't wanna be atTodd: Are they singing at each other? [shrugs]
Todd (VO): I mean, I was kind of amazed at just the sheer amount of gay subtext there is in this song.
Todd: Specifically, I'm amazed that that amount is zero. There's none. Not a drop.
Todd (VO): Seems like there should be, but...uh, no.
Todd: And believe me, I'd call it if I saw it.
Clip of Beyoncé & Shakira - "Beautiful Liar"
Shakira: Can't we laugh about it?Todd (VO): Yeah, like, see this? Beyoncé and Shakira definitely went out and had sex after this.
Clip of R. Kelly ft. Usher - "Same Girl"
R. Kelly & Usher: We been messing with the same girlOh, yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah, gayest song ever written.
Clip of Brandy & Monica - "The Boy Is Mine"
Brandy: He belongs to meOh God! The sexual tension on this was off the charts!
Todd: Who could even deny it?
Video for "I Don't Care"Todd (VO): But this?
Todd (VO): I mean, part of it is because the two of them are so boringly straight. But, there's more.
Todd: Like, there's another duet out right now, "Dancing with a Stranger".
Clip of Sam Smith & Normani - "Dancing with a Stranger"
Sam Smith & Normani: Look what you made me doTodd (VO): And the two of them seem like, "I'm not over my ex, so I'm out dancing with a stranger."
Todd: But...like, they both sing that. So, uh...
Todd (VO): Are they the exes? Are they the strangers? Are they two completely unconnected people in similar situations?
Todd: I don't know. But the thing is, I bothered to ask.
Todd (VO): 'Cause I felt like who's dancing with who matters.
Clip of "I Don't Care"
Ed: "Shall we dance?" (Hell, yeah)As opposed to the dancing in this song, where...
Todd: Well...[dances in his seat; text appears: "I DON'T CARE"] I don't care, and I don't think they care either.
Todd (VO): Like, this is a song that's emphatically not about what it's about. Like, the overwhelming vibe I get from it is not...
Todd: ...discomfort, or anxiety, or relief from those things.
Todd (VO): It's more like this fratty, [clip of...] Rat Pack kind of showbiz bros type of thing. You know, "We're hanging out, and...
Todd: "...doin' a little song and dance for ya, ladies and gentlemen!" You know...
Clip of Gene Kelly & Frank Sinatra - "Take Me Out to the Ball Game"Todd (VO): ...like an old-school musical with Sinatra and Gene Kelly.
Todd: Actually, I bring that up for another reason. [shot of The Frank Sinatra and Gene Kelly Collection] I read a review of those old Sinatra-Gene Kelly musicals. [screen capture of Sinatra-Kelly collection on...] Film Freak Central, good site. And the reviewer decided they didn't work together.
Clip from On the TownTodd (VO): 'Cause Sinatra in the '40s was this...scrawny, big-eared runt. And Gene Kelly is this perfect-looking movie star. Like, Sinatra's gotta be the villain; or Gene Kelly is the villain, and Sinatra can be like this little guy getting pushed around by the slick asshole. But they don't work as a team.
Todd: I mean, that's what the guy said. I've never seen those movies. But that's definitely how I feel here.
Clip of "I Don't Care"
Justin: Don't think we fit in at this partyTodd (VO): Don't fit in with a party? You don't fit in with each other!
Todd: I've heard other people say that their two voices don't contrast enough to be interesting, and...you know, that's true enough, but...
Todd (VO): ...part of being a pop star is projecting not just your voice, but your image onto your music.
Todd: And Bieber and Sheeran...they just have completely different energies that totally cancel each other out!
Video for "Shape of You"Todd (VO): Like, Sheeran, you know, he's always had his silly vibe. He likes clowning on himself. It's actually starting to feel a little forced to me, but...
Todd: ...you know, it's his brand. It's what he does.
Video for "I Don't Care"Todd (VO): So if you watch Ed Sheeran clowning around, it's just like...well, that's who he is. He's a fun guy. And Justin Bieber trying to horn in like, "Yeah, I'm a funny guy, too. We're just a couple of wacky cutouts!"
Todd: No, you're an [images of Bieber posing for Calvin Klein...] angelically beautiful underwear model, and you're [...and of him with Hailey Baldwin] married to another model. Butt the fuck out, you fuckin' bully! Don't you have enough?
Todd (VO): Or if you're watching for Bieber...Bieber in the dorky costumes is him showing he's not up his own ass about being a world famous pop idol.
Todd: You know, he can take himself down a peg.
Todd (VO): And then Ed Sheeran jumps in like, "Yes, I...
Todd: ...too am not pretentious about my glamour and fame." Get outta here, you fuckin' Muppet!
Todd (VO): It's like your kid brother trying to tag along. Go home before you get a wedgie!
Todd: Like, some team-ups make sense.
Video for Jay-Z & Kanye West - "Otis"Todd (VO): Jay-Z and Kanye brought out the best in each other; they played to each other's strengths.
Todd: Ed and Justin play to each other's weaknesses.
Video for "I Don't Care"Todd (VO): Sheeran feels like he's having everything unique about him removed to accommodate Bieber, and Bieber's flailing trying to convey emotions he doesn't know how. And if Sheeran was hoping to power this song through hype alone...
Todd: ...I don't think they're those kinds of artists. [shrugs] Hype is not gonna do much for them.
Video for "What Do You Mean?"Todd (VO): Like, yes, I know they're both super famous. That down period for pop music between 2016 and 2018 [image of Pitbull with caption: "In Memoriam Pitbull (1981 - 2015)"] claimed a lot of careers. [clip of "Perfect"] But they both came out bigger than ever.
Todd: The thing is, they did it by playing down to the mood of the time.
Todd (VO): Sheeran, no matter how popular he's gotten, is a folk singer. He's intrinsically anti-hype.
Todd: And Bieber should be hype...but, he stayed big by going low-key!
Clip of yet another live Bieber performanceTodd (VO): He kinda disappeared in his music. [clip of "Sorry"] He wasn't even in his own videos. I just couldn't imagine being interested in his next move.
Todd: So yeah. Bringing it back to where I started...
Video for "I Don't Care"Todd (VO): ...this song is like a perfect representation to why the male pop stars don't seem as important right now. Like, these are two of the biggest, leading lights of the genre...
Todd: ...and they just don't have the juice behind them like in...
Video for Ariana Grande - "Break Up With Your Girlfriend, I'm Bored"Todd (VO): ...Ariana, who can power even mediocre songs to massive success.
Todd: I mean, again, I could be wrong. It's still early; this could be the song of the summer. [shot of article: "Ed Sheeran and Justin Bieber bag a third week at No. 1"] In Sheeran's home country, it's doing really well. And it could do it here, too.
Video for "I Don't Care"Todd (VO): But if it does, it won't be because it excites people. It'll be because the sound is so generically of-the-moment that it's not even distinct enough to get really sick of.
Todd: I feel comfortable in my assessment. If the pop establishment was producing any decent male pop stars...
Clip of AMAs performance of BTS - "DNA"Todd (VO): ...we wouldn't have to keep importing them from Korea. A huge chunk of the American public is crossing the language barrier to find teen idols they like. What does that tell you?
Todd: Tells me we can do a lot better than this. Get it together, fellas, seriously. Or people really will not care very soon.
Video for "I Don't Care" endsClosing Tag Song: "We Care A Lot" - Faith No More
"I Don't Care" is owned by Atlantic Records UK
This video is owned by me
THANK YOU TO THE LOYAL PATRONS!