Hello, everyone! Today I’m venturing into previously unexplored territory: Justin Bieber’s discography. It’s a frightening and bizarre world, full of half-baked metaphors and phrases that were definitely written by a songwriter (and not a robot who moonlights as a corporate hedge fund manager), but someone had to do the dirty work of trying to figure out what the heck Justin Bieber is trying to say in his song “Intentions,” and why they let him release it in the first place. So you intrepid souls, come along with me if you dare into the dark world of “Intentions” so that we can finally uncover why Justin Bieber thought it made sense to write a love song comparing his wife to financial products.
Like any explorer, I had to do some research about unfamiliar terrain before I made my trek. I started with the music video, which really weirded me out even more than the song itself. A music video about real people? Doing real things? Highlighting the immigrant experience and eternal struggle to achieve the American dream? How did that possibly mesh with the original song’s incredibly shallow and capitalistic message?
Unless, of course, it was just an attempt to put a veneer of profundity onto a song that couldn’t be more hollow if it tried. While I admired the fact that the song and music video were made in part to promote the non-profit Alexandria House and their Intentions fund, I knew that the Biebs didn’t write this song just for that cause.
In Bieber’s own words:
“I think a lot of us forget to set intentions. As humans we get caught up in our everyday worries and struggles. What we set our intentions on makes a difference on the outcome of our life and the quality of life that we live.”
Like the song itself, this explanatory quote is logical, yet annoyingly vague and simplistic. I think most people could agree that “setting intentions” in life is important to achieving specific outcomes, but I don’t think the idea of performing actions with specific intentions is a particularly novel or profound one. Most actions undertaken by humans are purposely done, perhaps not with the same weight on intentionality as Bieber seems to be talking about, but intentionally done nonetheless.
And anyways, whenever the word “intentions” comes up, I can only think of a gruff dad in an 80s film asking his daughter’s boyfriend about his “intentions” for after the prom. Intentions only need to be spoken aloud if there already exists an incorrect idea about what these intentions might be. So if that’s why Justin Bieber wrote a song about his intentions for his wife, it suddenly becomes a lot more suspicious. But what’s the point of talking about the song without analyzing the lyrics? The chorus tells us a lot about the Bieber’s relationship as newlyweds.
Picture perfect, you don’t need no filter
Gorgeous, make ’em drop dead, you a killer
Shower you with all my attention
Yeah, these are my only intentions
Stay in the kitchen cookin’ up, got your own bread
Heart full of equity, you’re an asset
Make sure that you don’t need no mentions
Yeah, these are my only intentions
From the first line, Justin Bieber tells us what he values most in his wife: her beauty. Her natural beauty, of course, because he would never find value in any woman who relied on filters or cosmetic surgery to enhance her appearance. Interestingly enough, there has been rampant speculation that his wife Hailey Baldwin underwent plastic surgery (so much so that Bieber issued a cease and desist letter against a plastic surgeon for publicly claiming this) and like everyone on Instagram, she most certainly uses filters. Whether Bieber is aware of this or not, the first line points to his love of Baldwin’s “authenticity” in perhaps the shallowest way possible by lauding her for not looking like an Instagram girl, even though by all standards, she fits the bill.
The next line further emphasizes that he holds Baldwin’s beauty in the highest esteem, and that it’s because of this beauty that he wants to “shower” her with attention. Clearly, his attention is a gift that she earns for being hot enough to meet his standards, and demonstrates how he might view their love as a transactional relationship.
Celebrating Baldwin’s beauty is Bieber’s first priority, but he also cares about her financial independence. I’m sure that his certainty in Baldwin’s ability to “cook up…[her] own bread” must help him sleep easier at night than he might if he was with someone eager for half his cash, and his cute little reference to the age old sexist refrain about women needing to “stay in the kitchen” puts a fresh new spin on a classic adage. But once again, we’re forced to ask ourselves about the true meaning behind this line.
It’s true that Baldwin has the ability to financially contribute to the relationship with her lucrative hoard of 28 million Instagram followers and her successful-ish career as a model. But it would be a lie to say that Baldwin built her own brand with hard work alone, as there’s no denying that marrying one of the most popular musicians in the world gave her an astronomical boost to her status and her Instagram follower count. So yeah, Baldwin can cook up her own bread, but only because Bieber gave her the dough in the first place. Thinking about how her financial independence is still dependent on his name shines a less positive light on his “intentions.”
The real puzzler of the song is when Bieber states that Baldwin’s “heart is full of equity.” Now I’m no hedge fund manager (unlike the robot who wrote this song), so I had no idea what equity actually is. According to Google, equity is the “ownership of assets that may have debts or other liabilities attached to them. Equity is measured for accounting purposes by subtracting liabilities from the value of an asset.”
Now that I know the true definition of equity, I can’t think of anything more romantic. Why would one compare their love to a summer’s day, when they can compare them to the value of repackaged debt? And it’s not just Baldwin who is full of equity, but her heart that’s full of it. That’s it, we’re done folks. The most romantic thing to tell your woman this Valentine’s Day is that her heart is full of re-purchased debt (minus the liabilities of course). But he’s not done wooing his girl; Bieber goes one step further by calling Baldwin “an asset.” Which again, how swoon-worthy. Nothing like being compared to your husband’s finances.
Wow, I’m already writing so many words about this special special song, but I’ve gone this far, so I can’t turn back now. Now it’s time for Verse 1!
When I create, you’re my muse
That kind of smile that makes the news
Can’t nobody throw shade on your name in these streets
Triple threat, you a boss, you a bae, you a beast
You make it easy to choose
You got a mean touch, I can’t refuse (No, I can’t refuse it)
We start out the first verse with a wonderful allusion to the elder Baldwins’ procreative process. I thought that a financial comparison was the height of romance, but now I think a shoutout to my parent’s sex life might be even better. Bieber wants us to know that he not only appreciates the Baldwins for creating Hailey, but also for raising her so well. It’s true that most love songs don’t recognize the importance of good parenting on a potential partner’s psyche, so I, for one, am glad that Bieber is taking the time to mention it. Give these solid parents their due! But again, he’s seeming to give all of the credit for Baldwin’s virtues to her parents, which is a thought that clashes with his idea of a girl whose perfect for her own self-made qualities.
The next line references Bieber’s creative process, which is strange because I didn’t know that hedge fund robots had muses (besides junk bonds), but I’m glad he’s shining a light on his artistry. We learn that her smile can make the news, which I wish was true, because I’m tired of hearing about the president admitting to trying to obstruct the election, but unfortunately no smile has made the news as of yet.
There’s some ambiguity to what Bieber means when he says that “nobody [can] throw shade on your name in these streets” and explains that this is due to Baldwin being a “triple threat, you a boss, you a bae, you a beast.” Is he referencing the plastic surgery allegations? The rumors that Baldwin was obsessed with him before their relationship began and constantly trying to steal him away from his then girlfriend Selena Gomez? Or the constant manufactured feud between Gomez and Baldwin on Instagram? Who knows, because apparently those things can’t tarnish Baldwin’s name. She is too successful, pretty, and ambitious to be bothered by that nonsense. And the fact that Bieber had to issue a cease and desist letter in the first case has nothing to do with it, haters!
He then goes on to say that Baldwin makes it “easy to choose” which implies that he had many many options before her, because she has “a mean touch I can’t refuse.” Is this love song actually negging Baldwin? Is he subtly reminding her that he sticks around with her because she’s hot and the sex is good, but if she ever crosses him and stops being worthy in his eyes, he’ll drop her like a hot cake for his other adoring minions? I don’t know, you tell me. I can’t tell his “intentions.”
After another heart stirring chorus, we move onto Verse 2.
Already pass, you don’t need no approval
Good everywhere, don’t worry ’bout no refusal
Second to none, you got the upper hand now
Don’t need a sponsor, nope, you’re the brand now
You’re my rock, my Colorado
Love you now, a little more tomorrow
This how I feel, act like you know that you are
In the first line of this verse, Bieber expresses his appreciation that Baldwin lives up to high standards. As a incredibly rich celebrity, it’s of the upmost importance that Baldwin already fits easily into his high society, and that she doesn’t have to worry about any condescension from snooty upper crusters. I feel like this could be the type of song that Tom Buchanan might have sang to Daisy. It has that same “I’m glad you’re not a poor” vibe to it.
Since Baldwin is now second to none (marrying a rich guy does that to you), she doesn’t need to rely on any sponsors, and is in fact her own brand. His insistence that Baldwin is bringing in her own cash is still confusing to me, as I can’t find any evidence that she makes money from anything besides light modeling and Instagram. Her application for a beauty brand called Bieber Beauty was actually denied because Justin Bieber already owned that trademark. So she’s trying to make a brand based off of his famous name, which again emphasizes the notion that all of her fame and net worth stems from her marriage to Bieber.
The next two lines are a little puzzling. Bieber says that Baldwin is “my rock, My Colorado / get that ring, just like Toronto.” Genius Lyrics was no help on the first line. I get the rock part, but the Colorado part is eluding me. Is she like Colorado because that’s where the Rocky Mountains are? Because there are a lot of rocks in Colorado? Because there’s a town called Boulder? Unfortunately, the wit of this line went straight over my head, Luckily Genius Lyrics helped me out with the second line, so I now know that Baldwin’s engagement ring is as blingy as the Toronto Raptors 2019 NBA Champion ring.
So yeah, she got that $500,000 ring as a prize for agreeing to marry Justin Bieber, who needs no one to tell him that he’s a catch. The guy has enough ego for all of us. The second verse ends with a sweet couplet about how Bieber “loves [Baldwin] now, a little more tomorrow” and the absolutely grammatically puzzling closer: “this is how I feel, act like you know that you are.” That you are what? What is the end of this sentence, Justin? Re-reading that verse, it seems like “that you are” refers to Baldwin being his rock, but I wish he could have written that last line a little more clearly. This is something I will take up with the hedge fund robot the next time I see him.
The song continues for two more choruses and another verse by Quavo, but to be honest I don’t care at all about Quavo’s verse, so I’m just going to omit that and pretend this is the radio edit. Now we’ve finished our trek and it’s time to analyze our discoveries. After a semi-exhaustive deep dive and a lightly introspective examination of the Baldwin-Bieber marriage, what have we learned from the song that seems to summarize it all?
First, we learned that Bieber primarily sees Baldwin as trophy wife, someone who he can dangle on his arm, someone who meets the approval of his rich friends, and someone who won’t embarrass him by getting her name dragged through the mud.
Second, we’ve learned that Bieber values a wife who isn’t out for his money, yet doesn’t seem to care (or maybe even realize) that Baldwin’s net worth is dependent on his own. What’s funny about this is that in another one of Bieber’s songs, “Love Yourself,” he rags on his ex (most likely Selena Gomez) for using his name to get into clubs, yet doesn’t seem to care that the main reason Baldwin is allowed in his social circles and can make money off of Instagram is because of his name.
Third, we learned that the Baldwin-Bieber relationship seems very transactional. To be fair, this song written by a robot only gives a tiny glimpse into their relationship, and from their Instagram photos they do seem to be happy, but the way Bieber describes Baldwin is strange. He compares her to financial assets, praises her beauty and her networth, praises her parents, but never really praises Baldwin herself for her personality or any of her deeper qualities. It all makes it seem like Bieber’s love for his wife is entirely superficial, and if that wasn’t his intention, then “Intentions” didn’t live up to its name.