Written Before Listen
Justin Bieber is a Canadian pop singer who has been relevant for more than a decade now. Needless to say that he is rather adored or hated. Personally, I don’t hate the music he makes but I’m not a fan of it. I’ve considered him an automatic sellout who has never had artistic merit and originality as his primary focus. Its obvious that I was going into this album with bad expectations but like always, I hope I am proved wrong. Lets see what the Biebs has in store for us.
So there are two conterversial topics to talk about. The first one is the obvious Martin Luther King samples that seemed phoned in. Let me just say that it’s obvious that they are put in for the sake of being talked about. The other one is a bit smaller and how I heard about the album in the first place. Electronic duo Justice took legal action to Justin Bieber with the logo used for the album. I don’t know if that was intentional but Justice made that their own and Justin Bieber did not give them zero credit or recognition after they announced their legal action. So knowing that, I knew that there was going to be some cultural appropriation peppered throughout the album.
So being a pop record in 2021, there are features that appear in this album. They all are super underwhelming and forgettable. The Khalid feature is boring…as predicted, the Chance The Rapper feature is underwhelming and cringey. Its actually funny that he went from “Ultralight Beam” to dropping some terrible lines like “If you make it to the water, He'll part the clouds/I know He made you a snack like Oscar Proud”. The Kid Laroi like usual drowns himself in his influences, Dominic Fike brings a pretty bland and filler feature and same goes with Daniel Caeser & Giveon. The only person that does well with his feature is Burna Boy and even then it goes on for so short of a time, he seemed like an afterthought.
So Justin Bieber doesn’t truly bury influences on his sleeve but he does show some unique fusions with the exceptions of the contemporary synth pop peppered on here. Songs like “Holy” and “Lonely” have a more soulful approach than usual songs on here. Songs like “Ghost” and “Love You Different” goes for more an tribal EDM feel that was common in Biebers style in 2015. There is also the folk inspired “Off My Face”. Do I like the genre-bending? Not really but I don’t dislike it. A lot of these genre fusions have already been approached by one pop star or another. It’s truly nothing new
So many simple chord progressions appear on this album to count. Despite liking “Off My Face”, I can admit that the chords are basic. Honestly like more than half of the tracks have a basic chord progression that I’ve probably heard in 50 other songs. It pissed me off enough to have its own section.
There are a couple tracks I liked more than others but there is only one track I actually enjoyed and that is “Deserve You”. Other than that, I don’t mind “Anyone” and its minimal appraoch. Everything else I rather just couldn’t mask or just didn’t like. I just didn’t like this album at all.
As expected, I didn’t like this album. It wasn’t as bad as his earlier music or even a song like “Yummy”. It still was bad when it comes to music standards. A lot of the tracks were basic and formulaic and when they weren’t, they were nearly unlistenable. The features were underwhelming and phoned in, the MLK dialogue had nothing to do with the album and overall, it’s just not a good album.