Editors’ Notes For blackbear, the stakes are clear for everything means nothing, his fifth full-length. “I really want this to be a No. 1 album,” he tells Apple Music. “If I have one, it's this one. If I get a Grammy, I want it to be for this one. It's my life's work in a way—it shows my versatility as an artist.” After 2019’s ANONYMOUS, the 29-year-old (born Matthew Tyler Musto) was determined to make a more balanced and uplifting record—a set of alt-leaning pop songs that people could dance to even at their lowest. To get there, he and co-producer Andrew Goldstein placed an emphasis on tempo and organics: The drums are live, the snaps and claps real, the BPMs heightened. “No artist should really feel those things,” he says of striving for commercial success. “But at the same time, this is my career and it's how I pay my bills and it's how I'm going to put my son through college. I wanted to make it a little less about me and more about the fans and making them feel good. I just wanted to do better. I was like, ‘You know what, I'm going to make sure that there's not even one bad note.’” Here, he guides us through the album track by track.

hot girl bummer
“I mean, it's obviously a satire record, and the approach is basically like, ‘Fuck this.’ Maybe not ‘fuck you,’ but ‘fuck you’ to the situation, really. The whole idea is I'm out in Hollywood, I'm at a club, I'm in the corner, and this kind of sucks. Personally, I don't drink. I'm drinking my Red Bull, so it's even more boring for me. That's kind of what the 'fuck you' is for. It's just a funny look at what it's like to go out nowadays and be around people in their twenties.”

me & ur ghost
“I feel like it's basically a song about the loss of someone and you're kind stuck there with memories. You know, I still find clothes from my ex in my closet and stuff like that, and it's just weird ghostly vibes. It's like a sense of nostalgia—and I know that that word is really hot right now—that is kind of just in the rearview. The kind of feeling you get when you pass an ex-girlfriend's make and model of car, and you think it's them and you just get butterflies in your stomach. You don't want to particularly see them or even say sorry, or talk to them or anything like that. But you just kind of get this weird nostalgic feeling.”

queen of broken hearts
“I think social media breaks hearts in a way. We put so much emphasis on where our profiles are and where we're sitting and what our friends are doing and a fear of missing out. And I just feel like my heart gets broken every day. When I see a friend of mine in Cabo, I’m like, ‘Well, we're taking quarantine seriously. I want to be in Cabo right now.’ And my heart's broken. Every day I check my phone and I go on Instagram before I even text back my mom, and it's just like, ‘Damn, where's my heart actually?’ I made ‘hot girl bummer,’ ‘me & ur ghost,’ and ‘queen of broken hearts’ in the same three days, so I feel like I had a lot to say about how I was feeling that week. Maybe I was stalking an ex or something. I don't know what was going on, but that's probably what happened.”

i feel bad
“I feel bad. I struggle with this medical condition called necrotizing chronic pancreatitis. And I have to get surgeries every two months because I have this stricture in my small intestines. I have to actually get these tubes replaced and all this stuff in my body. There’s medications I have to take, and those don’t make me feel particularly good and they kind of ruin anything creatively. I have chronic pain all the time. If I have a bad day where I'm having pain, it sucks up the day. But that's just what it is. I feel bad about feeling bad. I feel bad that I don't even feel good, you know?”

i feel 2 much
“‘i feel bad,’ ‘i feel 2 much,’ and ‘i felt that’—we did those three songs in a row, in a week's time. I feel like I was feeling emo that week and I just wanted to make some, like, [2015’s] ‘Idfc’-type blackbear records. ‘i feel 2 much’ was my stab at making a blackbear ballad again, and it goes back to me just not feeling good, feeling too much, and I just don't want to feel at all. It’s like a rollercoaster with pancreatitis: I’ll have some weeks where I make ‘why are girls?’-type records, and then some weeks where I write ‘Idfc’ after ‘Idfc.’ You can tell from my Twitter account that it's pretty all over the place. One out of ten tweets are funny, and then the rest are just sad.”

i felt that
“It's just the aftermath of listening to those two records. Stylistically, it comes third because I'm going to dance through the pain and I'm going to cry through the ‘fuck you.’ I wanted people to just smile through the pain.”

sobbing in cabo
“My current girlfriend now—my son's mother, Michele—she called me from Mexico and she was crying. She was in her past relationship and she was like, ‘I'm just so unhappy and you make me happy. And I want to talk to you and I don't want to call my boyfriend right now.’ She was crying in Cabo, and I was like, ‘You know what, I'm going to make a song for you.’ It’s one of the few times where one of my songs is a true story. But it's my favorite song on the album, I think because it's just reminiscent of music I grew up on. Like the melody is somewhere between Saves The Day, New Found Glory, and Pitbull. There's parts that are crunk, and then there's parts that are just completely alt-leaning emo. It's just who I am as a person, so I love that song. I think she loved it, and if she doesn't love it, she usually lies to me and says, like, ‘It's cool, babe.’”

clown
“Just kind of like smiling when you're bored at a date or pretending that you're happy because you don't want to make the other person feel bad. It's very clown culture, the different masks that people put on. I find myself doing that. The chorus was actually written by Andrew. I wrote the verses and I helped Trevor [Daniels] write his part. He was amazing to work with too: I just felt like he was the right energy for the record and his voice fit really perfect on it.”

half alive
“It's basically ‘me & ur ghost’ on crack. It's a song of nostalgia. It's like, ‘I'm going to these places that we used to go together.’ This time I wanted to team up with Marshmello. I played the bass on it and Marshmello was just like, ‘Dude, that's it. That's going to be the chorus.’ That wasn't the original idea—the bass, the funky bassline, was just in the verses, and Marshmello pasted it and we really made it a cool dance record. He brings a very cool, a very fresh young vibe to any situation. Like when you hear him in Juice WRLD’s new record ‘Come & Go,’ you just feel like you're fricking 17 again.”

if i were u
“I don't even know what this song's about. It’s like a daydream of a record, and it was really hard for me to actually write because it's confusing. It’s like an easygoing easy-listening record, and listening back to it, it sounds brainless. But it took a lot of brain power for me to write that record. Lauv brought the most famous line of the song: ‘You went back to your ex, I effin’ hate that.’ Which for the rest of the two weeks after that song was made, my Postmates would screw up an order and I'd be like, ‘I frickin hate that.’ I kept singing it. He provided a month of comedy for me and my friends and my family.”

why are girls?
“I see things on social media—specifically on Twitter—where people will post a picture of a girl and it'll be like, ‘Why are girls so hot?’ I saw this trend going around for a while and it's true. It's like, ‘Why are women just so much better than men? Why were they made just so perfectly?’ And I think women and men agree that women are, you know? I sound like a simp, but women are top-tier human. And I let hot girls just come in and just take anything they want from me emotionally and physically. That's all it's really about. Just an easygoing song.”

smile again
“I really wanted a slower song to be the last song and we didn't have it yet. Finally I got this hook idea sent from my friend Joe Kirkland—he wrote a bunch of Dua Lipa songs, Nick Jonas, Dixie D'Amelio. He's a great writer, and he had this idea for ‘smile again,’ but it wasn't called ‘smile again.’ It was a song about his breakup that he was going through, and it was a really depressing record. And I was like, ‘You know what? This could be an uplifting record about loss, about grief, about losing someone, losing a time in your life.’ I think of songs like [1997]s ‘Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)’ by Green Day, just a strong acoustic record that means ten different things to ten different people. And this song was that for me. I pulled from places where in the past year I've had a bunch of friends pass away from either suicide or drug abuse or things like that. So this one's special to me. It’s the good last chapter of a book, the icing on the cake that is this emotional rollercoaster of an album.”

1
3:08
 
2
3:21
 
3
2:51
 
4
2:55
 
5
4:00
 
6
3:22
 
7
3:07
 
2:28
 
9
3:15
 
10
3:06
 
11
3:07
 
12
2:29
 

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