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Jesse McCartney may not be the same wide-eyed pre-teen we met when he joined Dream Street in 1999. He’s not even the slightly more self-assured young adult who dropped “Beautiful Soul” in 2004. But at 30 years old, he’s still got some good music left in him.
Earlier today, McCartney dropped the music video for his newest single, “Better With You,” via PAPER Magazine. The pop singer had been teasing the release of “Better With You” since mid-February, when he posted an Instagram video thanking fans for their patience (McCartney’s last album came out almost four years ago). And now his long-awaited single is finally here, accompanied by a sweetly romantic music video co-starring The Originals’ Danielle Campbell as McCartney’s love interest.
The video presents viewers with two different timelines—one in which McCartney meets and falls in love with Campbell after a coin happens to hit McCartney’s shoe and another in which the coin rolls away and McCartney continues to wash dishes, watch scary movies, and gloomily eat muffins by himself. We’re not quite sure which timeline is supposed to be real and which one is fake, but either way the video effectively reminds viewers that love is invaluable and often shows up in the most unexpected of places.
The “Better With You” lyrics reflect the underlying dark quality of its music video, subtly referencing the current political climate with lines like “I know it’s ugly turning on the news / There’s people fighting over point of view.” And it turns out that channelling his soft, poppy “Beautiful Soul”-era sound while acknowledging the existence of socio-political turmoil was McCartney’s goal—he told PAPER that “Better With You” provides fans with a “hopeful, uplifting message that was written during a turbulent time socially and politically.”
McCartney went on to talk about his musical hiatus and deciding to release his next album independently, explaining that social media has allowed him to connect with fans on a more personal level and that not having a record label push him to make decisions in which he isn’t fully invested has been “liberating.”
He also admitted that while putting out new music and reestablishing a relationship with his old fanbase initially seemed daunting, he eventually discovered that many Beautiful Soul and Right Where You Want Me enthusiasts, most of whom are now in college, are very receptive to both his new and old music.
“When you’re onstage and you play a song from as far back as 2005, the energy in that room is hard to explain, you just have to be there,” McCartney gushed. “And then playing the new songs has been really rewarding. I’ve never in the last 15 years that I’ve been on a stage, seen a group of people respond so quickly and start singing lyrics to a song they’ve never heard before.”
We have no idea when McCartney’s second single is coming out or when he plans to release another album. But if whatever he drops next is as charming as “Better With You,” we may just have to dust off our old Tiger Beat posters—or at the very least buy some new ones.