Some songs obscure their meanings in flowery language and metaphors that require us to do a close reading of every single symbol in order to derive the true meaning of the lyrics. Justin Bieber's "I'll Show You" is not that song. In fact, the single, which Bieber dropped early in the morning on November 2, is pretty transparent about its meaning to the point where it's impossible to reach the end of the song and not feel like Bieber was talking right to us. In the song, Bieber talks about the burdens of fame and once again offers an explanation for his behavior over the last couple of years. He opens up about how much pressure there is on him, and how it's hard to be a role model when he's constantly judged and has to hide his emotions.
This meaning comes through particularly strongly in the first couple of verses, in which Bieber outright states his purpose (pun intended) in writing this song. He sings, "My life is a movie and everyone's watching, so let's get to the good part and past all the nonsense. Sometimes it's hard to do the right thing when the pressure's coming down like lightning. It's like they want me to be perfect, but they don't even know that I'm hurting." Someone give Justin Bieber a hug right now. I'll wait.
Bieber is far from the first celebrity to write about the pressures of fame (off the top of my head, I can think of Ariana Grande's "Focus" and "You Don't Know Me," and Britney Spears' "Piece of Me" and "Lucky"), but it seems particularly poignant coming from him because we've literally seen him struggle. Every time Bieber pulled a stupid stunt and apologized, we might have all rolled our eyes since we knew he would inevitably find himself in controversy again, but it's hard to continue to roll our eyes and brush him off nowadays. In addition to his usual apology tour, Bieber has gone out of his way to prove multiple times that he's closed that tumultuous chapter of his life and is ready to focus on channeling his frustrations into his music.
And that's exactly what we get in "I'll Show You." Bieber has channeled his negative feelings into a healthier way than getting into trouble. Between this song and "Sorry," any lingering doubters are probably converting to the church of Bieber as we speak. And, if not, well, what are you waiting for?