Justin Bieber makes progression by looking back
It is not easy to grow up while being in the spotlights. That is something Justin Bieber can tell from experience over the past few years. The once cute teen idol had some legal rows and every move he made was followed by paparazzi, resulting in extensive media attention that came with a huge amount of scrutiny as well. Bieber put this turbulent period to rest with the international success of his single ‘What Do You Mean?’. Suddenly he was taken seriously as an international pop star, rather than being viewed as the troubled teen idol. With his brand new album Purpose he looks back at the harder times and mistakes, while making huge progressions in terms of sound.
In retrospective we can say that the success of ‘Where Are You Now?’, his collaboration with Jack Ü (Skrillex and Diplo), shaped the path his career is in at the moment. It not only marked a turning point in the way Justin was viewed by the mainstream audience, but it also carved out the sound he follows on Purpose. It is a mature collection of electronic pop and light R&B. The sound of the first two singles ‘What Do You Mean’ and ‘Sorry’, is omnipresent on the record that swings in very contemporary productions. Bieber found a sound that perfectly matches his breathy, whispering vocals and at the same time manages to set him apart from everyone else out there in the charts at the moment.
The album opens with the words ‘Mark my words, that’s all that I have’ and on the next track, ‘I’ll Show You’, Justin talks about how his life is a movie where everybody is able to watch him and that it his hard for him to do the right thing with all the pressure, obviously referring to the trouble he went through in the past few years (a theme that returns in a spoken word outro on ‘Purpose’). He asks for some understanding and reminds people he is still a person after all, which seems genuine and believable. ‘Love Yourself’ probably is the only diss track ever made that uses the words “My mom don’t like you and she likes everyone”, but the acoustic track works suprisingly well and the message to a girl who only dated Justin for the fame, is sharp and clear.
I wouldn’t go as far as to say that Purpose is a perfect pop album, as a ballad like ‘Life Worth Living’ actually seems a bit lifeless and the ‘change the world for our children’ anthem ‘Children’ falls flat as Bieber isn’t quite in a position to pull this off yet and the uninspired EDM production doesn’t help. Having said that, most of the time he and his team got it totally right. Take for example the breezy and laidback ‘Company’ that fits his smooth vocals perfectly or the lovely pop tune ‘The Feeling’ that brings out the best in both Justin and his duet partner Halsey.
Bieber especially shows his growth and maturity on the slow jam ‘No Pressure’ featuring Big Sean, about giving a love interest the time to make up her mind without pushing her. His vocals shine and thousands of girls world wide would hope he sings this to them one day. On ‘No Sense’ with Travi$ Scott he goes down the lane of progressive R&B, even sounding like star of the moment The Weeknd in places. This is a direction I would love to hear him explore more in the future. The days of teen pop Bieber are definitely behind us and we can say that he successfully transformed into a relevant pop star with his own sound on Purpose.
Must listen: I’ll Show You, The Feeling, Love Yourself, No Pressure, No Sense (There is no way you haven’t heard ‘Sorry’ and ‘What Do You Mean?’ yet…)