One day before the release of his highly anticipated "Believe Acoustic" album, Justin Bieber premiered "Nothing Like Us" exclusively on Billboard.com on Monday (Jan. 28). The somber piano ballad is one of the most revealing songs the teen superstar has released to date -- in just over three minutes, Bieber showcases the hurt he feels over his recent break-up with Selena Gomez and offers that emotion to his millions of followers.
While few details have been publicly released about the split -- busy schedules were cited as a factor when the break-up was confirmed last November -- Bieber uses this stripped-down track to expand on the rumors. The second verse is especially illuminating: "I gave you everything, baby/Everything I had to give/Girl, why would you push me away?" Bieber croons frustratedly as the piano keys beneath his voice bounce fervently. Later in the verse, he asks, "Tell me: was it worth it? We were so perfect/Baby I just want you to see," hinting that the blame for the break-up rests on Gomez's shoulders.
Yet "Nothing Like Us" is not an angry song, per se; the ballad is the sound of a teenager soaking in the end of a meaningful relationship, and wistfully recalling the sense of closeness that he developed with Gomez. "Nothing can ever, ever replace you," he sings. "Nothing can make me feel like you do."
After hearing Bieber's confidence blast across Top 40 for months on songs like "As Long As You Love Me" and "Beauty and a Beat," the teen star's vulnerability on "Nothing Like Us" is especially jarring. He's holding nothing back, and as his falsetto careens toward a quiver, he makes his subject understand that, to him, she is irreplaceable. "There's nothing like us," he gently declares on the chorus, "there's nothing like you for me, together from the start."
"I'm not in the happiest place that I've ever been," Bieber told Billboard in his latest cover story. "I'm trying to get through what I'm going through. Like I said, I have my really close friends to cheer me up and keep me going."
Click here to read an excerpt of Billboard's latest cover story, in which Bieber opens up about the Grammys, growing up in the public eye and the making of "Believe Acoustic." Due out on Tuesday, the stripped-down set will likely give the 18-year-old another No. 1 album on the Billboard 200, which would make him the only artist in history to have five No. 1 albums before turning 19. He would also become just the 10th act ever to score a No. 1 album in four consecutive years.