Justin Bieber is the closest thing we have to a thoroughbred popstar in 2013. He possesses the precise combination of charisma, self-destruction and talent needed in order to excel as a young adult in the music business, leaving behind his wanton days of YouTube fame and hair-flipping.
Most recently he’s been spotted in the bed of a curvy South American prostitute, fulfilling the dream of every 19-year-old boy who just discovered his favorite PornHub channel. He’s also managed to build a streak of hate that stretches across the world due to his questionable actions.
All of his recent actions can’t be easily dismissed by a simple excuse: He disrespected the first black president of the United States Bill Clinton, he proclaimed that Anne Frank would be DTF if she was a young girl today, he refused to soil his new shoes by walking the Great Wall of China, and he used an Argentinean flag as a mop during his live show. But almost all of Justin’s actions are rooted in his youthful ignorance.
It’s worth remembering that Justin Bieber is from Stratford, Ontario, a town previously most famous for hosting an annual festival in honor of Shakespeare. But let’s be honest—Justin hasn’t known anything but the music industry since Scooter Braun kidnapped him at 14.
He’s never attended a single day of high school. How do you expect him to know who Anne Frank is if he never sat through History class? Or that national flags should only be used to clean up dry spills—a topic that all Canadian students discuss thoroughly in Grade 11 Civics. Justin’s personality is only strange when we compare him to “normal” teens, but being normal means you can’t be the most popular in the world for the last three years.
Here’s some perspective: Usher came out with My Way when he was 19, which is Justin’s current age. Justin has already released three studio albums (more if you count the acoustic accompaniments), a movie and three diferent perfumes in his already five year long campaign. His last album Believe contains glorious pop hits, infused with flavors from traditional R&B to Motown oldies. Besides the fact that it was musically one of his best albums, Believe also sold the worst, racking up only 1.5 million sales to date—which is a lot in this climate, but consider that his first album has sold 5 million and the Christmas album he released six months before Believe has sold over 2 million).
Some pointed to the fact that Believe leans too close to the “urban” side of things and that Justin abandoned the pop formula that made him famous. When “Baby” dropped featuring a neutered Ludacris spitting a lukewarm 16, it felt like a legitimate co-sign. That feeling didn’t translate to the Big Sean, Drake and Nicki Minaj cameos on Believe since Bieber is arguably bigger than those artists. But Believe is an important stepping stone in the life of Justin Bieber. If you want to have career longevity, it can’t be as a pop star. The very definition of pop music is that it’s ephemeral, changing with the times to reflect what society values the most. The only way for Bieber to stay relevant was to crossover, and Believe was the first dribble.
For his fourth studio album, Justin is taking a page from Kanye’s GOOD Friday book and releasing a song from the untitled project every Monday. Based on what we’ve heard for the last six weeks, the new album will be the second coming of Confessions. Granted, there probably won’t be tales of an unwanted pregnancy and a scorned girlfriend since a 19 year old can’t tell you shit about love and loss, but that doesn’t make these singles any less amazing.
Let’s look at all of them in depth, analyzing them according to the cover art, production and songwriting. I was originally going to include originality as a metric, but that’s a useless measure when discussing the human conduit known as Justin Bieber.
Cover Art: 3/5
Awe, it’s like a wilted heart! WHO DID THIS TO YOU JUSTIN, I’LL KILL THEM!
Plucky guitar and snares start the song, but that shifts to dark, ominous drums about halfway through the song. It’s an R&B beat with one foot in pop tropes.
This song is all about Justin calling a girl to come over for a secret bootycall and then getting mad at her afterwards for saying he broke her heart. But then during the talk-rap portion of the song that’s lifted directly from “Confessions Pt. 2,” Justin says that he still loves her and that there are four seasons in the year or some shit. Stop leading me on, Justin.
“All That Matters”
Cover Art: 1/5
You know when you decide to make a logo for yourself, so you just connect the first and last letters of your name in an intricate fashion? That’s what Justin appears to have done with “ATM” here but it just fills me with disgust and confusion.
Acoustic guitar with trap drums? Yes please.
Justin has dedicated this song to his supposed better half, using romantic imagery such as comparing himself to a car with no gas when she’s not around—no drive. However, he also mentions that this female only appears at night, meaning that this whole song is either some complicated metaphor for a dream girl, or another ode to late-night bootycalls.
Cover Art: 3/5
A preemptive pause to help those enjoying this song justify their actions to themselves.
This is moisture music. The air gets damp like a fucking rain forest the second you press play. Put all of your electronic devices in a bag of rice before you decide to listen to this.
Justin Bieber painfully wants to be a bad boy, making this song about lips that hold on tight—presumably to his Stratford Beacon. Unfortunately he’s still obviously a 19-year-old boy in many ways, as evident by the groan-worthy inclusion of lyrics like “wrapped around my arm like a wristwatch”. Granted, there’s a good chance that Justin didn’t write any of the songs on this album, but until we can assign the blame squarely to Terius or some faceless ghostwriter, this is Justin’s burden to bare.
Cover Art: 4/5
Extra points for jacking 2010 Eminem’s swag and just making it purple.
True story: I saw doves fly past my window and copulate when I first heard this song. A Craig David flip insinuates that whoever made this beat is a huge Ryan Hemsworth fan, making this song a pinnacle of East-meets-slightly-more-East Canadian greatness.
Justin’s very apologetic in this song, coping with the struggles of keeping a relationship afloat without any previous experience. He speaks candidly about making mistakes and causing problems without truly implicating himself in any wrongdoing. Just like a real Canadian!
Cover Art: 5/5
This art looks like his team spent more than five minutes just looking at the keyboard for infrequently used symbols, so points for that.
Acoustic guitars and simple drums and snares? Meh. There’s some background singers on the tail end of this too, leading me to assume that Boyz II Men are still hanging around Bieber trying to get another co-sign.
This song is about being broken up with, probably as a result of all the fuckery Justin described in the last two songs.
Cover Art: .5/5
Are you fucking kidding me?
Heavy drums over some ethereal production, allowing Justin to sweep up the XO supporters that have gone straight-edge since someone slipped something into their drink at the last basement party they attended.
Now Justin is begging for the girl that left him to come back because, in the grand scheme of things, he’s not THAT bad, girl. Don’t listen to the haters, they just wanna be you, girl. But girl, even if I make you mad and you leave, don’t worry, because I still have the number of that bootycall and it’s starting to get dark outside.
Bonus: “Tulips” f/ R. Kelly (Prediction)
Cover Art: 5/5
A purple tulip, parted in a way that implies the flower is a metaphor for something else that’s also commonly referred to as a flower.
An acoustic rendition of a DJ Mustard beat.
The song starts off with Justin talking about “two lips” with some thinly veiled sex metaphors. The mood of the song decidedly switches when R.Kelly joins in, vividly describing the various ways that he will beat that pussy up. I’d have to do some research, but I’m pretty sure this is the first R&B song to ever mention double penetration.Tweet