While driving home with my flatmate Sara yesterday, I did my duties as shotgun DJ and made sure our serene mountain drive had music to match. Since a week ago I decided to review Justin Bieber’s new album Believe, I needed to do a little experiment to confirm something that I suspected. I played the album, track after track, not saying a word. Occasionally Sara would turn to me and ask ‘Is this Drake?’, No, that was Kanye West‘s new signee, Big Sean. Then, ‘Ok this one sounds a lot like Drake‘, Yes, because that was Drake. “Nicki Minaj?” etc. etc. Then I asked her a question: “Do you know who you’ve been listening to?”
Sara did not. But she really liked it. Then I told her who it was. In that little exchange, Sara confirmed what I had suspected. That the album, on it’s own merrits, was quite good.
This is my first time Bieber album, I’ve never so much as viewed any of his youtube vids, and I watch half of his documentary film (which was quite enlightening to say the least). I chose to review this album as a challenge to myself. Could a pretentious hipster who finds Radiohead droll, find any merrit in a medium he loathes? Yes he can.
While far from perfect, aside from Bieber’s voice, which is deeper and far more mature (from what i gathered), Believe harkens back to the R&B of the midninties. Songs written, mostly by him, to get that girl off the dance floor and into your arms. The album starts strong, particularly with the one-two combo of Boyfriend and As Long as You Love Me, then settles slowly into a series of mediocre, yet well produced, pop songs, ending on the high-note of the Michael Jackson-esque Believe.
Look, you’re probably going to write him off, and that’s ok, he doesn’t need you, and you’ll hear all the best songs as they are released as singles over the next year. All I can really say is though, you’re probably going to like them, because you won’t know it’s him. The evolution of Bieber could have gone one of two ways: the route of spoiled pop puppet, or that of a musical prodigy honing his art. Luckily for us, and the world he inhabits, his route is the latter.