Photo: Justin Bieber
Justin Bieber is a grown man and his music isn’t for 12-year-old girls anymore and you need to take him seriously.That’s the consensus today as the Biebs drops the first meaningful album of his life, Believe.
This album is Bieber’s entrance into the area of pop music where people like Pitbull, Rihanna, and Usher live.
He has abandoned Disney pop, and adopted the R&B/dance-pop sound that currently dominates the music landscape. The move implies a certain amount of ambition — he’s consciously evolving, after all — and that’s why people are so excited about it.
But that doesn’t mean he’s any good.
People are calling this Bieber’s “Cry Me A River” moment — where the beloved teeny-bopper evolves into an interesting R&B/pop artist.
But “Cry Me A River” wasn’t a big deal just because Justin Timberlake decided to make a heavier, more serious piece of music. It was a big deal because it was a straight-up pop masterpiece. Have you listened to “Cry Me A River” recently? THAT SONG IS FREAKING INFECTIOUS.
Comparing Believe or any song on Believe to “Cry Me A River” is borderline offensive.
Yes, this is a new Justin Bieber. And relative to the empty bubble-gum pop of the My World series, it’s a better Justin Bieber.
But Believe is still generally terrible.
The album is a mix of Pitbullian club bangers, imitation R&B songs, and inspirational tween-bait that would fit right in with his earlier albums. And the whole thing is plagued with an endless succession of cameos that (with the exception of Drake on “Right Here”), feel completely out of place.
There are a handful of really good songs here (more on that later). And Biebs’ new grown-up voice is actually really smooth and fits the genre well.
But if you’re looking for a comparison, it’s not Timberlake’s Justified, it’s Nicki Minaj‘s Pink Friday … Roman Reloaded — an album by an artist in transition that’s impossible to listen to in one sitting because there are so many godawful songs.
(Appropriately, Nicki Minaj’s verse on Believe‘s “Beauty And A Beat” is the worst thing she’s done in her life.)
Don’t worry, Bieber people, there’s enough good stuff here to make it a pretty safe bet that the Biebs will be around for a long time. But for now, make a Spotify list of just these awesome songs, and ignore the rest of Believe:
- “Right Here”
- “Out Of Town Girl”
- “Take You”
- “As Long As You Love Me”
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