In 2013 Justin Bieber released his flop album Journals to not only show fans and the skeptical public that he desired to make music for adults, with slow and sultry R&B tunes, but to also demonstrate that he was trying to change his ways. While Bieber was determined to project a more grown up image on Journals, he had become known for having a bad boy image due to his legal troubles and inability to handle fame. Known more for his failures then for his music, the public turned away from him, leading to the assumption that his time in the spotlight was ticking.
While Justin’s new record Purpose has extremely strong singles due to his collaborations with Skrillex, the overall release tends to take the same path as Journals, making for a long and mostly boring album, with his apologies feeling forced. The opening track on Purpose titled “Mark My Words” is a weak opening song beginning with muffled vocals from Bieber that feel more annoying than mature by the time the track ends. As he sings about losing trust in those around him, we already feel like his words are filled with fluff and that he is not the changed young man he claims to be.
“What Do You Mean?” the second of two Skrillex collaborations, could easily be labeled one of the best songs of the year, with skeptics warming to Justin after his time away. With his wispy voice and a tropical influenced sound, “What Do You Mean?” is something that even the older generation can get into, which points to his maturity, along with the idea that he has turned a new page when it comes to his creativity. If this were the only song released for Purpose, we may be convinced, but lumped in with the rest of the record, it’s quite clear that Justin still needs to experience a lot of growth in his professional and personal life.
“Life Is Worth Living” a piano ballad, shows Bieber’s vocal abilities, and this by far is his strongest musical talent, and while we’ve been made aware of Justin’s interest and ability for playing other instruments, singing is his strongest skill, and he should use it to its fullest potential. On this particular track, Justin asks for forgiveness one more time, and while his vocals come through sounding pure and moving, the lyrics are tired and bland, as he tries to explain his transgressions through music, which at this point has been going for over an hour. For anyone who wasn’t a fan of Justin previously, at this point they will feel like giving up when giving Bieber a fair chance, since very few songs on Purpose come across suggesting artistic growth. The records title track is the album’s closing tune, and while it’s another song that shows that Justin is more than just a teen star, his explanations of his mistakes which come in the form of spoken word, don’t feel genuine or true. While Justin is working hard at changing his entire image quickly, it will take a few more years of experience for his critics to give him the respect he is seeking.
You can listen to “What Do You Mean?” below.