• Darby VanDeVeen

blackbear Uses the Internet to his Advantage on “everything means nothing”

“In terms of success on streaming platforms and Tik Tok, blackbear has met his goal.”

Matthew Musto, professionally known as blackbear has become known for his R&B/pop sound with emotional and relatable lyrics. On his fifth solo studio album, “everything means nothing” blackbear changed up the formula to create a more balanced and uplifting record. He revealed to Apple Music that he was striving for “commercial success” with this album, something a lot of artists strive for, but never have the guts to admit out loud.

Through the lens of a casual listener, this album is good, with catchy hooks and songs that you can dance to. Looking at it more critically reveals a bland, emotionless album that succeeds solely in the Internet-friendly songs that it wanted to have. With Tik Tok being a new way to determine success in the music industry, artists have started to shift their sounds ever so slightly to make it more friendly for the app. Instead of writing one song to meet the Tik Tok craze, blackbear wrote an entire album.

Electropop production and slang-infused lyrics characterize everything means nothing. For the first few songs I really enjoyed the production and upbeat tempo (and was dancing along as I listened, which I’m sure is no surprise), but about halfway through I was looking for a change of pace. The pitfalls of the upbeat tempo were similar to Ava Max’s Heaven & Hell, in which the songs bled together and I couldn’t distinguish one from another by the end of the project.

The potential for everything means nothing was high, coming off of its darker predecessor ANONYMOUS. The trilogy of songs “i feel bad,” “i feel 2 much,” and “i felt that” are about blackbear’s health struggles with necrotizing chronic pancreatitis. Instead of pulling from the emotions that he talked about with Apple Music, the songs barely scratch the surface and could have benefitted from a more introspective approach.

Clever lyrics were always one thing I liked about blackbear, who has penned lyrics like “do re mi fa so f***ing done with you.” Lyrical quality dropped on this album as well. Trying to include slang terms to be more relatable worked in a commercial sense, but diminished the overall quality of the work. “You made me wanna live, laugh, love and now I wanna die” he sings on “i felt that.” “I was super drunk, I was hella high” on “half alive” sounds like a college student recapping their weekend adventures instead of an established musician.

If this really is blackbear’s “life’s work” I would hope he has something else up his sleeve. In terms of success on streaming platforms and Tik Tok, blackbear has met his goal. If he was looking for an album that would impact the world for longer than a few months, he needs to work on balancing a radio-hit while not sacrificing depth and substance.


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