Pierre Crosby Joshua Bassett
Joshua Bassett is doing his best to get ahead of any ill will as he prepares for the release of three new songs, which he's teased on his social media.
The High School Musical: The Musical: The Series star, 20, sent a text message to fans on Thursday, just hours before he's scheduled to drop the tracks "Crisis," "Secret" and "Set Me Free."
In the message, Bassett called 2021 "the most challenging year of my life," and thanked his fans for their "kindness."
"Thank you for seeing me, and each other, as living, breathing, healing and hurting human beings," he wrote. "Due to the nature of pop culture, and the current public perspective, [there] will be a lot of loud voices in this next chapter — positive, negative and everywhere in between."
He then shared a request that all of his listeners keep things civil and kind.
"all i ask is you treat everyone with respect and love," he wrote. "anyone who sends hate on my 'behalf' is no fan of mine."
The "Feel Something" singer has teased snippets of each of the three songs to his TikTok account, and each clip has revealed juicy lyrics that address the end of a relationship — one that many fans think was with his HSMTMTS costar Olivia Rodrigo, 18.
"And honestly I didn't want to write this / Don't know if I can / Still holding back, still want to run," he sings on "Crisis." "And if you get to tell your truth then so do I / And it's cool if you want me to play the bad guy / But don't you dare act like I didn't love you."
The lyrics seem to hint at Rodrigo's smash hit single "drivers license," which came out in January.
Image Group LA/Disney Channel via Getty Joshua Bassett and Olivia Rodrigo
The actors' on-screen chemistry, Instagram activity and affinity for writing music together has led fans to believe they shared an off-screen romance of sorts as well — and when Bassett was seen hanging out with Sabrina Carpenter, many believed that Rodrigo's lyrics were referencing his apparent moving on.
Bassett appears to be trying to make amends for any wrongdoing in the lyrics of "Set Me Free," which he also teased on TikTok.
"I know you feel used, I know you've been hurt / Anything I did to make you feel worse / I'd take it all back if I could," he croons. "And nothing I say will ease the pain / Why must I hurt for you to feel okay."
Then, on "Secret," he hints that not all was as it seems with the relationship about which he's singing.
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"You swore that you only had a crush / You told me that you would cut him off / I should've seen it coming then," he sings. "My friends all warned me I should run for the hills / But I defended you still / 'Cause I knew rumors could kill."
When Bassett told fans he'd had a challenging year, he wasn't kidding; just days after the release of "drivers license" — which brought on messages of hate from Rodrigo fans who believed he was the song's subject — Bassett was hospitalized in "the worst pain of [his] life" with septic shock and heart failure.
"[The doctors] told me that I had a 30 percent chance of survival," he told GQ in June. "They told me that if I had not checked into the hospital within 12 hours, I would have been found [dead] in my apartment."
The singer said that at the time, he brushed off any negative attention he received from "drivers license" because he "didn't have any energy to be able to focus on anything but staying alive."
Then in May, Bassett revealed he was a member of the LGBTQ community when he shared a statement and a video of himself singing a track related to his coming out.
"This was the first time where I was subjected to a lot of homophobia. You know, I seem 'straight' to everyone I meet, pretty much, and I have had to see that [homophobia] first-hand," he told the U.K.'s Attitude Magazine in August. "Seeing that put things into perspective, of how far along we aren't yet; I thought we were a lot further on than we are."
"On the flip side of all that are the responses I've gotten from people saying, 'I've never had somebody put into words exactly how I feel,'" he added. "Or, 'Thank you so much for helping me be seen.' Or, 'I can't be who I am around my family, but because of you I feel a little bit safer, a little bit more at home.'"