Release Date: May 7th 2021
Reviewed by: Joshua Andre
- Break My Heart Myself (Feat. Travis Barker)
- Trust Fall
- Better Mistakes
- My Dear Love (feat. Ty Dolla $ign & Trevor Daniel)
- Die For A Man (feat. Lil Uzi Vert)
- Baby, I’m Jealous (feat. Doja Cat)
- On The Go (feat. Pink Sweat$ & Lunay)
- Death Row
- Amore (feat. Rick Ross)
If you were to tell me even a year ago that I was going to listen to a few ‘mainstream’ pop albums and actually respect and enjoy them to a certain extent- even a little bit… I’d have laughed in your face and told you that you’re crazy. Such was my line of thinking and my total immersion into the Christian music scene. Not that there’s anything wrong with that- but as I’ve realised that God speaks through a manner of things, including mainstream music, partly from embarking with Jon on our blog series about influential artists; I’ve come to the conclusion that not all mainstream music is bad. Sure there’s some things to stay clear from like sex and drugs and songs about violence… but if we can gain something out of a song or an album or an artists’ discography, that is beneficial to our own lives and reveals more about God our Saviour, Father and Friend; then isn’t that song/album/artist worth pursuing actively and becoming a fan of, regardless of your initial position? I was challenged by this notion when I listened to and reviewed Justin Bieber’s Freedom EP… and now here I am again, as Bebe Rexha’s sophomore album Better Mistakes tugs at my emotions and reveals to us an album worth diving into and an album that speaks to a myriad of relevant issues. I wasn’t a fan of Bebe before- I still am not that much of an avid fan… but now, let me say that I’ll definitely be quietly anticipating whatever comes next. Better Mistakes is personal, honest and vulnerable- and it may not be your cup of tea, and it’s purely pop. But take a chance, and I’m sure you’ll be pleasantly surprised, like I was.
Success has changed a lot for me. I used to think it was being #1, getting Grammys. But I feel like success to me is balance. It’s health, first and foremost. Health and happiness—physically and mentally. When I got my first house, I was like, “I want to just get this house because it is a cool space where I can have my friends and family come and hang.” There is enough space for us to make dinner and vibe out. Of course, I get caught up in the numbers and the charts and this and that, but I try to remind myself that if one day, god forbid, I’m on my deathbed and I’m sick, the charts are not going to help me.
My pop girls were Britney [Spears] and Christina [Aguilera]. When I was a young girl, I was like, “How can I look like them?” I have Albanian roots. So my grandmother has big hips, my mom has big hips, we all have curves. I love them now but when I was younger, I was always trying to figure out how I could fit that mold. It’s definitely been something that’s stuck with me. I’ve learned to love my curves. I would love to be super fit and skinny, but I need to do what’s good for me and what’s healthy for my body. I remember watching you perform, always being like, “Wow, look at her, she’s fit. She’s strong. She’s got a sick stomach.” But you had thighs, you know? That made me feel like I wasn’t alone. A lot of times I can be my own worst enemy and I can get in my head. As a female in the industry, the actual business part of it can get hard. Because I’m from New York, I come from Albanian parents. In my family, we are loud. We don’t hold anything back. So when I walk into a room, I’m like, “I want this, this, this, this and that. I would like it this way.” There have been times where I’ve had male executives tell me, “You need to be a little less harsh.” A lot of people are thrown off by that, but…I have my business together. I read my contracts. I’m a businesswoman. I write my songs. I’m not going to just sit there. I think the thing for me was I learned that your team is so important. I could never do this alone. It’s about having the right team.
I first heard of Bebe’s music from the song “Meant To Be” with Florida Georgia Line, the rest was history (as we all know how massive that hit song was, and is!). Fast forward to now, and as we are all caught in the middle of more COVID-19, we all long for inspiration and hope to know that things will be alright. I took a plunge on Better Mistakes, because ‘why not?’… and the result is one of the most hopeful and stirring albums I’ve heard in recent memory. Ok… not as thought-provoking as Jon Foreman’s Departures, but still pretty hard hitting, I reckon. Album opener “Break My Heart Myself”, with Travis Barker on drums, holds no bars, and dives deep into uncomfortable subject matter straight away. With Bebe vividly and in no uncertain terms singing about her own bipolar diagnosis, and other mental health issues and struggles, we are met with a revealing track that peels back the layers of one of the most taboo subjects ever. As we are presented with the notion that people like to go through life alone, as to may give them more ‘control’, this song is a warning of what may happen (spiralling out of control) when life is lived in isolation- and though this track seems fun, lasting only 2 and a half minutes; “Beak My Heart Myself” subtly encourages us to seek support and help when we need it, and to have people in our corner that have our backs always, no matter what.
The rest of the album packs a great big punch, and Bebe dives deep into a number of controversial and universal issues that we all deal with. “Sabotage”, an in your face piano ballad, dives home the point that sometimes we ourselves sabotage friendships and relationships because of our own addictions, vices, bad habits, insecurities and hang ups- and though there’s no resolution, the harrowing melody reminds us that in order for relationships to succeed, we need to work on ourselves and be honest first. This is a track whereby Bebe’s vocals shine, and is one of the most personal on the album; while “Trust Fall” speaks about falling in love with someone and putting their trust and faith in them- although the track can be applicable to platonic friendships, and our weird devotions to people. For no rhyme or reason we are putting our faith in the unknown, and this song asks the question of can we fully trust people or not. The title track places the responsibility and onus back on us, as we are imparted with the concept of us trying to be better versions of ourselves- if not for other people then for ourselves and our own health and sanity. The concept of us making better mistakes means that we should strive to be better versions of ourselves… and as Bebe encourages us to live a life that is much more satisfying and fulfilling; well that song can’t be bad, can it?
“Sacrifice”, as vivid as the music video is (vampires and everything!), we are met with a relevant, confronting melody, as we are asked the question of what are we willing to sacrifice in order to be in a healthy relationship with somebody; while the ballad “My Dear Love” is sung to Bebe’s past ‘friends’, and is a track that cuts them off, that chastises them in no uncertain terms, and lets them know that she’s let go of their toxic energy. “Die For A Man” delves deep into the concept of attaching your self-worth to a person, and then realising that you don’t have to die for someone to show them that you love them, that you should love yourself whole-heartedly and know that you are worthy and beautiful and lovable just as you are (I reckon it’s because God says you are beautiful… but anyway!); while lead single “Baby I’m Jealous” features Doja Cat, and skillfully and cleverly reminds us all that jealousy is a thing, and it’s perfectly normal. Bebe also reminds us in this song that sometimes we can do irrational things… and it’s at these times we have to check ourselves and ask ourselves why we’re doing these things and whether they’re well and truly valid or not.
“On The Go”, a slower paced keys driven ballad, speaks about wanting to love someone, but you’re always on the go because of work, or whatever other reason- and then you find yourselves on two different wavelengths… and this track reminds us all to actively make time for those you love and care about, otherwise you’ll find the relationship disappearing right before your very eyes. “Death Row”, one of the rare rockers on the album, presents us with the concept of spending your last days with one particular person- the one you value the most; while the revealing and heartbreaking “Empty” again speaks about Bebe’s mental health issues and her depression, concluding that she feels empty (also another track where Bebe’s vocals shine!)… a song that doesn’t have a resolution, but one that gets you to really think about the real issues of what is the thing that makes us want to be alive every day. “Amore”, the penultimate track from Better Mistakes, is a parody of Dean Martin’s “That’s Amore”, with Bebe and rapper Rick Ross singing about what makes them feel content and satisfied (in the song it’s material possessions… and it’s sarcastic, and a warning for us to re-examine our priorities in life!). The album then ends with the confronting, comforting and hopeful “Mama”. With Bebe using musical elements of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody”, we are presented with the most inspirational song on the album, as Bebe champions her mother, and says that despite the mistakes she made, she’s proud of her efforts and that she did the best she could. A song that essentially tells us her how much she loved her mother, Bebe reminds us to hold onto our relationships and cherish them dearly- otherwise they’ll be gone without a moment’s notice.
I used to think when you grow up, you don’t make any more mistakes in life, and that’s not true at all. I feel like as you grow up, you make better mistakes, but you’re still making mistakes. That’s what I’ve learned. The lyric, “I should have another breakdown”—sometimes I like to be sarcastic with my lyrics, just because I feel like I’m very sarcastic actually in real life with my friends. I like to make fun of myself. I think that’s important.
[before], for me, it was living the perfect life, whatever you consider being a perfect life. Trying to live a diamond life is trying to live up to what the media and society say is amazing, which is to be super rich and have nice things, have nice cars, be super famous. That’s what I thought… I think a diamond life for me is to be able to live closer to my family. My diamond life would be to wake up in the morning, make my coffee, kiss my dog hello, walk down the street to where my parents live, and enjoy barbecues and swimming and chill vibes. Enjoying life. Maybe I go on a vacation here and there. And writing music, because I love writing music.
Bebe Rexha’s Better Mistakes is a revelation, and a surprise album that I enjoyed very much. There is explicit material here, but when you’re singing about depression, mental health issues, jealousy, emptiness, love for material possessions, gratitude for parents, cutting off friends, and acting out because of a variety of reasons… well that’s understandable I guess- Bebe’s just writing and singing from her heart. I didn’t expect to be so impacted so positively by a mainstream pop album… but here we are. There literally isn’t a negative point here. It’s too short though (at 35 minutes!)- but other than that, Bebe’s effort is near flawless, and makes us think more about ourselves and more about others. So what are you waiting for? Check out this album and be blessed and inspired!
3 songs to listen to: Break My Heart Myself, On the Go, Mama
RIYL: Olivia Rodrigo, Dove Cameron, Halsey, Zara Larsson, Coldplay, Selena Gomez