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Justin Bieber Is 2020’s King of the Wife Guys

The pop star has rebranded yet again: to Extremely Married

Last year, as I worked on a “Pisces Season” playlist ahead of my birthday, I found out that I share the astrological sign with none other than Justin Bieber, who was born on March 1st. All at once, the fuccboi anthem “Sorry” — and my puzzling addiction to it — made sense. It’s not his fault he falls in love easily, then ruins it, then wants to (kinda) apologize! That’s the way of the slippery fish, baby.

But even for a Pisces there comes a time to grow up and get serious. And what does the natural romantic, the messy empath, become when he reaches maturity?

In all likelihood, a Wife Guy:

Bieber’s future Wife Guy status was assured in the fall of 2018, when he and fiancée Hailey Baldwin seemed reticent to even disclose whether they’d officially wed, and if so, when and where. The pop star finally confirmed that he was a “married man” — classic Wife Guy lingo — in late November 2018. A year later, the couple had their official ceremony with family, friends and celebrity guests in South Carolina, some months after a Vogue cover story in which Justin and Hailey opened up about how “marriage is very hard,” their decision to stay celibate before tying the knot and the role that church and god played in their union. If all that wasn’t enough to convince you of Bieber’s Wife Guy ascendance, well, there’s also his new album, Changes: According to a VICE review, it leans toward the mellow vibes of domestic stability.

In other words, Chance the Rapper may have met his match.

Sure, Chance is an equally religious family man who has fully integrated matrimony into his brand. Bieber, however, knew global superstardom as a child, flirted with the skeevy rich-kid life in his teens, then mounted a superhuman comeback that left him totally spent by his early 20s. Both musically and personally, he’s burned already through too many eras not to over-commit, at this pivotal moment, to the Wife Guy character, and so he’s basically incapable now of speaking or singing in a different mode. It’s all Wife, all the time.

Yet Bieber’s chaotic aura guarantees Wife Guy content that vacillates between the somewhat relatable and the bracingly outlandish. Either he’s defending the scumbro mustache that Hailey despises, or she’s giving him a bejeweled ice cream pop for Valentine’s Day. Picture him receiving such a demented gift, pretending to understand it, and tell me his Wife Guy stats aren’t sky-high.  

But it’s the recent sex talk — beautifully enshrined in lyrics like “Yeah, you got that yummy, yum / That yummy, yum” — that strikes me as the most recognizable Wife Guy behavior. “When I’m with my wife, we like to… You guys can guess what we do,” Bieber told a fan curious to hear how he spends his free time these days. “It gets pretty crazy… that’s pretty much all we do.”

Here you notice the tension between a fuccboi impulse to dish out graphic detail of bedroom escapades and the husband’s need for discretion through ambiguity. A Wife Guy cannot self-actualize unless we know he is pleasuring his wife, yet it will not do to reveal that, after a courtship without consummation, you are now enjoying bouts of doggy style and reverse cowgirl.

On top of that, Bieber has to create the impression of an extended honeymoon period in order to sell the Wife Guy themes of Changes — he’s been married for almost a year and a half but making it sound like he said his vows a couple weeks ago. He also wants us to believe he recorded an entire album while rarely, if ever, disentangling from his supermodel bride? Okay!

Well, congrats to him. The new tunes are mostly relaxing and low-key, helping to offset some of the awkward, corny, try-hard Wife Guy energy Bieber has injected into the promotional tour. Like, I get what he means about the idea of spending his life with Hailey giving him “chills” — it’s just a weird way of phrasing it. This, perhaps, is what elevates him to the status of King Wife Guy in 2020: He’s incredibly amped to be married and trying every day, in every way, to explain how and why, regardless of our interest. It doesn’t always land quite right. No big deal, though: Wife Guys aren’t overly concerned with their strong affection going awry or wearing on other people’s nerves.

As long as there’s a wife to come home to, he’ll be more than satisfied.