Photo: Luke Rogers

Joshua Bassett – Just Love

Joshua Bassett prays for widespread love and acceptance in new single, and directed its music video

For the better part of the last three years, fans of the Disney+ show High School Musical: The Musical: The Series have watched as Joshua Bassett, who plays leading man Ricky Bowen, has gone from relative newcomer to a genuine, viable star onscreen and off. He seamlessly entered into the world of pop music with YA pop tunes such as “Lie Lie Lie” and “Feel Something,” but his sound and lyrical content quickly shifted to a more adult-contemporary vibe.

The reflective, personal trio of “Crisis,” “Secret,” and “Set Me Free,” released in late 2021, was a turning point. His young voice was (and is) still developing, pinching off at the top of his mixed register, but he was forced to write about the very real and raw challenges of adult life in the public eye. On his new song “Just Love,” his first release of 2023, he takes a step further, challenging the morality of a global institution and the people within it.

In the track, Bassett pleads with the powers that be to open their arms to those who have faced hardship, rejection, and exclusion: “Too many have lost their lives and… / Too many tears we’ve cried ‘cause/ We couldn’t seem to see the light / But what if we just… love, love, love?” The tender piano ballad contains elements of worship and gospel music, with a choir echoing his message throughout the track’s second half.

The music video, directed by Bassett himself, is a stark, emotive piece depicting what could be. Of all people… young, old, gay, straight, etc., coming together. He shows his current self extending his hand to those he sees as younger versions of him… likely what he needed most throughout his own journey of self-discovery. The universality of phrases such as “everyone’s hurtin’,” “you’re cryin’ for help,” and “you’ve been livin’ in hell,” are reminiscent of a song like “Pray” by Justin Bieber. Bieber was young when he recorded that song while Bassett is older and more aware of his sociopolitical surroundings, but both songs are very much, ‘It is bigger than me… we all need to play our part” in nature.

Despite the personal implications of the subject matter, Bassett’s decision as the director to present himself as both the messenger AND the person on the front lines fighting to bring people together in the video is a noteworthy aspect of the project. He is quickly becoming a jack-of-all-trades and a leader of his generation.

Statistics on homelessness, abuse, and more are included at the end of the video, but with the message, “It ends with us. It ends with love.”

Stream “Just Love” :