I'm Clifford Stumme, and I use literary analysis and research to explain the deeper meanings of pop songs. Feel free to leave a comment or to email me at with questions or ideas!

What does "I Don't Care" by Ed Sheeran and Justin Bieber mean?

What does "I Don't Care" by Ed Sheeran and Justin Bieber mean?

“I Don’t Care” Lyrics Meaning

“I Don’t Care” has attracted major attention from music listeners as two of the most followed pop stars Justin Bieber and Ed Sheeran collaborated on the single. The song’s “main character” or “narrator” is a more introverted, and also has struggled with social anxiety for a long time. The song’s lyrics focus not on the difficulties of social anxiety, but rather the relief from that anxiety that he finds in his lover. With her, he doesn’t feel out of place. He feels like he belongs.

“Don’t think we fit in at this party”

The narrator begins to feel less alone by realizing that he doesn’t need to impress or earn the approval of everyone at the party they are attending. He does this by reminding himself of the depth of connection that he and his lover share. He doesn’t feel like he doesn’t fit anymore. It’s a “we” instead of an “I.’ Neither of them fit in with the majority, and rather than being frightened by that, it only gives him a great sense of connection with her.

Verse 1

I'm at a party I don't wanna be at

And I don't ever wear a suit and tie, yeah

Wonderin' if I could sneak out the back

Nobody's even lookin' me in my eyes

Can you take my hand?

Finish my drink, say, "Shall we dance?"  (Hell yeah)

You know I love ya, did I ever tell ya?

You make it better like that

The narrator feels out of place wearing “a suit and tie” at “a party [he doesn’t] wanna be at.” He doesn’t know the other people well and begins “wonderin’ if [he] could sneak out the back.” Instead, he asks his lover to take his hand and dance. The tone shifts from anxious to confident as he tells her: “I love ya, did I ever tell ya?” The connection he feels with her is strong enough that he doesn’t feel alone at a party where he would normally feel uncomfortable.


Don't think I fit in at this party

Everyone's got so much to say (Yeah)

I always feel like I'm nobody, mmm

Who wants to fit in anyway?

(Verse 2 Pre-Chorus:)

Don't think we fit in at this party

Everyone's got so much to say, oh yeah, yeah

When we walked in, I said I'm sorry, mmm

But now I think that we should stay

The pre-chorus following verse 1 repeats the themes already presented. He feels less outgoing and unlike the people who have “got so much to say.” Though it might have shaken his confidence before, he is able to shrug it off when he is with her, and decides that he doesn’t want “to fit in anyway.”

The pre-chorus after verse 2 uses “we” rather than “I” to illustrate the lack of loneliness he feels with her. He feels more than able to tolerate these parties. He even “think[s] that [they] should stay.”


'Cause I don't care when I'm with my baby, yeah

All the bad things disappear

And you're making me feel like maybe I am somebody

I can deal with the bad nights

When I'm with my baby, yeah

'Cause I don't care as long as you just hold me near

You can take me anywhere

And you're making me feel like I'm loved by somebody

I can deal with the bad nights

When I'm with my baby, yeah

The chorus affirms the theme of the song: the narrator’s lover eases his fears and loneliness, because he feels like he belongs with her. He can “deal with the bad nights,” and she “can take [him] anywhere” that might have made him anxious just so long as she “just hold[s] [him] near.’

Verse 2

We at a party we don't wanna be at

Tryna talk, but we can't hear ourselves

Read your lips, I'd rather kiss 'em right back

With all these people all around

I'm crippled with anxiety

But I'm told it's where I’m s'posed to be

You know what? It's kinda crazy 'cause I really don't mind

And you make it better like that

The second verse returns to the details of the party as the music is cranked so loud that they “can’t hear [themselves].” The business of his surroundings causes him to be “crippled with anxiety” and he is frustrated that he feels society tells him it’s where he’s “s’posed to be.” He’s surprised that his frustration melts because she makes “it better like that” by being with him and helping him forget about his worry.


I don't like nobody but you, it's like you're the only one here

I don't like nobody but you, baby, I don't care

I don't like nobody but you, I hate everyone here

I don't like nobody but you, baby, yeah

The narrator of “I don’t care” is not a people person, but she is the exception. He dislikes the company of everyone but her, which enables him to feel “like [she’s] the only one [there]” and bring him a feeling of belonging in stressful social situations.

Deeper Meaning of “I Don’t Care” by Ed Sheeran and Justin Bieber

I have mixed feelings about the lyrics of this song. On the one hand, I like the hopeful theme and the sweetness of the love story. I believe that pop songs with an emphasis on lasting emotional connection and genuine caring should be applauded so that artists will know there is market for it and that not everyone wants songs that are shallow. However, I do question if the subtext of the message is entirely healthy, though I might be reading too deeply into it. If you have a connection like the one the narrator has with his girl, it’s likely this song is uplifting. What concerns me is those who are struggling with social anxiety and don’t have that. Without meaning to, songs like this can plant the idea that having a romantic partner is the magical cure for all our emotional ailments. It’s not. Romance is a beautiful thing, and a good partner assists the other in overcoming anxieties and fears, but is very far from being the superior or only way to seek emotional healing. That’s not to say what happened to the narrator is not genuine, as it does happen where the romantic partner is the one to guide someone out of anxiety. In order to overcome fear and feel that we are “somebody,” we don’t need to wait for another human being with just as many problems to give us worth. I’ve found that while it helps for someone to say that we belong, it’s only a temporary or partial solution. In my own life, the only thing that has helped me overcome the anxieties of life is to remember that God creates people with specific intention, and by simply existing, it means we belong, and are loved.

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