Nobody quite likes Justin Bieber. He is both the most loved and hated man in the world at the same time, and i differece to the former child star seems impossible. In the past few years he has been better known for his blatant disrespect for the law, or his knack of saying ridiculously inappropriate things. A lot of the time the music he makes has been looked over in favour of the column inches he creates. With such notoriety it is often difficult to take him seriously as an artist in his own right. He has been famous from such a young age, that it’s likely no one has ever said no to him. It makes perfect sense that he probably feels like he is above the law.
Until recently his most famous song was the riculously cheesy ‘Baby,’ the song he released when he was a young teenager. He has tried to break away from that to make more mature music. For example his song ‘Boyfriend,’ which failed to hit the spot for a lot of people. His desire to be the new Justin Timberland seemed to fall flat, and his media face continued to supercede his musical ambitions. It was going to take one hell of a track to make people forget his grinning police mug shots.
We’ve all heard the saying; you can’t pollish a turd, but you can sprinkle glitter on it. Earlier this year Bieber got together with dance music whizz kids Skrillex and Diplo. He was well and truly bringing out the big guns, and the two musical pioneers have done a whole lot of glitter sprinkling and polishing. The song was a huge club hit all over the UK. No doubt many clubbers got the shock of their lives when they got out their phones and launched Shazam. But that’s the thing about Bieber’s voice. It isn’t distinctive enough to stand out and be instantly recognisable on the radio or in a club. It’s probably one of the reason that the track worked, and made it loved by people who wouldn’t normally engage themselves in his music.
A metal head friend of mine recently told me that I had to listen to the new Bieber album. It seemed like an unlikely recommendation, but I went in with an open mind. Taylor Swift has been the singer most recently who has taken pop music and made it credible. So many indie music lovers (myself included) have taken to her music in ways that we haven’t with similar acts. So could Bieber do the same? Well here’s the good news. His two recent singles ‘What Do You Mean?’ And ‘Sorry’ are huge, well produced pop anthems. He seems to be taking on the style that has made Years & Years so successful over the last year. In fact ‘Sorry’ even seems to have channelled Years & Years’ track track ‘Take Shelter’. Following on from his Diplo & Skrillex collaboration, it’s the production of the tracks that makes them. But credit where credit’s due, they are without doubt great pop tracks.
So what of the rest of the album? Well he puts his best foot forward, showing of his rippling muscles on the cover, fresh from his recent Calvin Klein photos. But in a way it’s felt the album was massively miss-sold. Whilst I was expecting to be surprised with similar well produced bangers, what I actually found was an album of paint by numbers R&B tracks. It starts right from track one. ‘Mark My Words’ is an unimpressive opener that fails to kick things off with a bang. The same pace continues into track two ‘I’ll Show You’. I was dissapointed to be so underwhelmed from such an early point in the album; despite the promising signs.
‘Love Yourself’ is a sassy comeback so good to a past lover. It is a well written track with clever lyrics. If you check the writing credits you will see Ed Sheeran’s name, so it is hardly surprising. Once again Mr. Bieber has chosen his collaborators well. But other than that, there is little else that stands out. There’s nothing offensive on here, although his ‘inspirational’ little speech on title track ‘Purpose’ does make him comevery across a little self-important. If you get the deluxe version of the album, there are nineteen tracks and feels like one hell of a chore to get to the end. I like music that is challenging, but not for these reasons.
But he must be doing something right. On the release of the album, eight of the tracks made it in to the UK top forty, including the number one and number two records. He finally seems to be taken seriously by the world, but for me it just fell a little flat.