Listening to Justin Bieber’s latest album Believe for the past week brought me back to the summer of 2001 when I was counting down the days to my 13th birthday and boy bands (NSYNC & O-Town, sorry BSB) and pop princesses (hey Britney! hey Mandy!) ruled my world. For those of you who I’ve now epically confused, what I’m trying to say is Believe is a fun, youthful addition to my iPod that makes me nostalgic for the days when I instantly fell in love with every sugary sweet pop song on the radio.
Bieber’s definitely grown since his One Less Lonely Girl days. Sonically Believe is a strong pop record for JB to show his range and give us a taste of what else he’s capable of. Elements of electro, hip hop, dubstep, and acoustic rock are all present, as are guest appearances from hip hop’s finest: Ludacris, Big Sean, Drake, and Nicki Minaj. Vocally Bieber reminds me of Justin Timberlake with touches of MJ. His voice is never buried underneath layers of auto-tune and 808s, so you can actually hear how his vocals have evolved over the past few years.
Content-wise, Believe tells tales of young love, hope, and the downside of fame. The standout track appears at the very end when Bieber addresses the woman who claimed he fathered her child last year. Now this my friends is a genius move, and the production is so well-executed by Darkchild. Maria really allows Bieber to get his MJ on in an album closer that I’m referring to as Billie Jean for the younger set. When it’s over you’re left wanting more where that came from. It’s a total cliffhanger for what we can expect next from Bieber.
Believe isn’t an album that lacks focus and tries to accomplish too much in 16 tracks. It’s a smooth, cohesive transition from Bieber’s teen to young adult years that will broaden his audience. I’m already excited to hear how Bieber will continue to update his sound in the years to come, but until then I have Believe to tide me over.