When you're a teenage superstar, you don't even get the day off on your 18th birthday, so when Justin turned 18 on March 1, 2012, he devoted part his special day to appearing on The Ellen Degeneres Show. During their conversation, Justin announced this song as the first single from his third album, Believe. It was released on March 26, 2012.
Here's what Justin told Ellen regarding the track's meaning: "The song is basically, I'm talking to this girl and I'm like, 'If I was your boyfriend I'd never let you go.'"
Justin wrote the song with American songwriter Mike Posner, who is best known for his hit single, "Cooler Than Me
." Speaking with radio DJ Bootleg Kev before the song's release, Posner said: "I wrote and produced that with him. And wait 'til you hear the beat; you're going to flip. You're going to want to play this song. Yes, it's super hip-hop." Posner went on to explain that Justin raps "a little eight bars" and offers some "crazy" singing afterwards on the track. "That was our whole goal, was to make something that was hater-proof," he said.
Justin explained to Ryan Seacrest on his radio show why he decided to lead his Believe album with this track: "It was a really hard choice. I mean, we had so many songs, so many uptempos we could release, [that] I thought, 'Let's slow it down,' " he said, adding that "I thought this was the perfect single," as this song "was me all the way; it is a representation of me."
We hear Justin singing, "If I was your boyfriend, never let you go/ Keep you on my arm, girl, you'd never be alone/ I can be a gentleman, anything you want." The Canadian singer was asked by E! News if he had his girlfriend Selena Gomez in mind when writing the track? "No, I mean the song definitely just comes from my heart and whatever that is, whatever is in there," Justin replied. "So, I mean, I'll never let you go if you're my girlfriend, I promise."
Mike Posner hooked up with Justin through his manager Scooter Braun. The "Cooler Than Me" singer explained to MTV News: "I've known Scooter for a few years, so I actually ran into Scooter at a Clippers game and told him I would love to work with Justin. I got the opportunity to write with Justin. I didn't really know what to expect at first, but he's an incredible, incredible writer and amazing vocalist. Because I'm an artist myself, I can be pretty selective on who I produce for and who I make beats for ... and really what I'm looking for is an amazing vocalist, somebody that can sing better than I can," he continued. "And the other thing is somebody that's willing to not try to make something that succeeds within the matrix of what pop music is now, but makes something that moves that matrix to where it is, and Justin was willing to take that leap with me."
This was only the second song with a title featuring the word "boyfriend" to be a top 10 hit in the US. You have to go back to the pre-Beatles era for the other one - "My Boyfriend's Back
" by The Angels topped the Hot 100 in 1963.
The song's music video was shot by Director X on April 21 and April 22, 2012 in Los Angeles. We see Justin cruising in his convertible, picking up a girl played by Rachel Barnes and chilling out at a rooftop bash. "It was just cars and the simplicity that they liked. Cars, girls, just young people hanging out, having fun, that kind of thing. When I heard it, I thought that's what it should be," the director told MTV News. "From what they wanted to do with Justin and the song and who he is and his age now, I thought that was it. They should expect the Justin they know, just a little more grown-up."
LA model and actress Rachel Barnes shares the same exotic looks as Justin's real-life girlfriend Selena Gomez. "They picked two girls based on the pictures, then they came and then we picked the best one who looked best on camera. It was kind of a group thing 'cause she was really beautiful and on camera it was this cool vibe," Justin revealed to MTV News regarding her casting. "She looked kind of like Pocahontas."
Don't worry Belieber's - Rachel is not Selena's rival for Justin's affections - she married her husband in 2011. "Justin and Selena are adorably inseparable and I, myself, am already married. I'm a Belieber, but he's not my boyfriend," she told TMZ.com
. "It's been great to be a part of the Bieber madness ... even if only for a song."
Mike Posner originally wrote the song with his pal Matthew "Blackbear" while hanging out during the video shoot for his mixtape track "Perfect Mess." Speaking during a web interview for The Tonight Show, he recalled: "I was hanging out with my friend Blackbear, and he was playing guitar, and I started singing this thing over it. Originally we had these lyrics that went, 'Inside of your bedroom, no one has to know. Inside of your bedroom, that's where we should go.'"
"But I never really liked those lyrics and so I sat in the studio for hours," he continued, "and then this statement popped into my head: 'If I was your boyfriend.'"
When Posner got together with Bieber, the Canadian teenager replaced Posner's original raunchy verse lyrics with some more befitting of his age. Posner recalled to Genius
: "Justin was 16 at the time. So a lot of those lyrics didn't really make sense for him. When someone sings a song they have to make it their own, otherwise it just sounds like a karaoke song. So all the verse stuff that is in the actual song, where Justin says, 'Swaggy,' and that stuff–he came up with all of that."