“STAY”, the song by Australian rapper and singer, Charlton Kenneth Jeffrey Howard, professionally known as The Kid LAROI, and Canadian singer Justin Bieber has sat at Number 1 for the sixth week on Mediabase’s US pop radio chart.
“Stay” is a fast-paced synth-pop, hip pop, and pop rock song that incorporates piano keys, heavy drums, and “splattering” synths. The track’s upward-darting keyboard riff serves as its spine and eventually becomes the chorus melody.
The song was released through Grade A Productions and Columbia Records on 9 July 2021, as the lead single from Laroi’s reloaded mixtape, F*ck Love 3: Over You. It was produced by Cashmere Cat, Charlie Puth, Omer Fedi, and Blake Slatkin.
“STAY” was written by the two artists and the producers, alongside FnZ members Finatik and Zac, and Haan. The song marks the second collaboration between Laroi and Bieber, following Bieber’s song, “Unstable”.
Over a repeated melodic cell, Laroi and Bieber switch between head voice and chest voice on a minor sixth. Jon Caramanica of The New York Times described the track as a “hyper-slick” hybridization of new wave and pop-punk. Some critics found similarities between it and the music from Bieber’s sixth studio album, Justice (2021).
Justin Curto from Vulture compared the song’s sound to Justice single “Hold On” and album tracks “Die for You” and “Somebody”. Stereogum’s Chris DeVille characterized it as “[p]ost-SoundCloud pop-rap as effervescent Justice-style ’80s pop”.
The “heartbreak-fueled” lyrics to “Stay” enforce Laroi’s toxic behaviour as he sets up a story about a troubled relationship where he is at fault. In the chorus, he sings about his broken promises before begging for his partner to stay with him: “I do the same thing I told you that I never would / I told you I’d change, even when I knew I never could.”
Bieber’s verse echoes similar sentiments as he belts out lyrics about being unable to live without his loved one: “When I’m away from you, I miss your touch / You’re the reason I believe in love.” The song reaches its climax as Laroi and Bieber’s voices join together in the last chorus.
“Stay” peaked at number one the Billboard Hot 100, becoming Laroi’s first chart-topper and Bieber’s eighth. The song additionally topped the Billboard Global 200 and charts in twenty countries, including Australia, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, South Korea and Sweden. It has also peaked within the top ten in 18 other countries.
Born on 17 August 2003, in Waterloo, New South Wales, Laroi originally gained recognition from his association and friendship with Juice Wrld while he was on tour in Australia. Laroi is from the Kamilaroi people, an Indigenous Australian nation, from which he derived his artist name “Laroi”.