The Painful Meaning Behind the Song “Ghost” by Justin Bieber

It’s been over a decade since Justin Bieber made his splashy debut as a teen idol. And like most people, Bieber has loved and lost several times since the year 2009. Unlike most people, though, Bieber has become one of the best-selling, most-listened-to artists of all time. And in early 2021, he dropped his sixth studio album, Justice.

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Several songs make this particular record worthy of note, but one, in particular, is the two-and-a-half-minute song “Ghost.” Arresting in its sonic ups and downs, “Ghost” touches on some heavy-hitting topics in its lyrics. Read below for the meaning behind those song lyrics.

The meaning behind the song lyrics

“Ghost” is about losing a loved one, likely because they have passed away. I know you crossed a bridge that I can’t follow, Bieber sings.

But “Ghost” doesn’t exclusively serve in an elegiac fashion. The tune can serve as a comfort for those battling the woes of long-distance or separation. As Bieber told Vogue in 2021, the song is about “losing somebody you love. And I know a lot of people have; I know this has been a really challenging year where we’ve lost loved ones and relationships too. The hook is saying, ‘If I can’t get close to you, I’ll settle for the ghost of you.’ That works for this quarantine situation […] we’re not relating and connecting in the same way. It has allowed us to only really have these memories. I hope this resonates and I hope it fills your heart up with joy or comfort in some sort of way.” 

That if I can’t be close to you
I’ll settle for the ghost of you
I miss you more than life (more than life)
And if you can’t be next to me
Your memory is ecstasy

“‘Ghost’ is a really special record,” Bieber said in a later 2021 interview. “My objective with making this song was to make people feel like there is hope and that the trauma and the hurt that you feel isn’t going to last forever. It takes time to heal. There will be a moment where that pain doesn’t hurt so bad. Know that that feeling will subside.”

Who is the “Ghost”? 

Bieber wrote “Ghost” with singer/songwriter Jon Bellion (known for his song “All Time Low”), two of the Monsters & Strangerz songwriters/producers (Jordan K. Johnson and Stefan Johnson), and Michael Pollack. Each songwriter imbued a slightly different meaning to the song, proving that music is, at its core, subjective.

For Bellion, “Ghost” meant a more literal loss of a loved one. In 2022, Bellion took to Twitter to reveal who he thought of when “Ghost” comes on. “Wrote this one about my grandmother,” he said. “Really cool to feel her every time I turn the radio on in the car. Miss you Gma.”

Who does “Ghost” remind you of? Let us know, comment below.

Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic

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