Ever since listening to Purpose, I have a soft spot for Justin Bieber. That record had some great pop hits with some depth. Bieber was actively trying to shake off his kid phenomenon persona from Believe and go full pop R&B with far more musical complexity and a deeper vocal range. For me, and hundreds of millions of others, it worked. Quick to capitalise on his new pop R&B sound, Bieber would quickly turnaround another record. Now, I found Changes to be a record fully comprised of Tic Toc filler tracks that were devoid of soul, joy and talent. He is now back with Justice…side note…what’s with all the one word album names? Anyway, will this record fall into the pop hooks I loved on Purpose or the Tic Toc trash on Changes?
For Justice, the answer is…..a little of column A and a little from column B. There are some forgettable tracks on this record and half ideas that seem good on paper, but go absolutely no where. For example, he attempts to address civil rights and the Black Lives Matter movement with a track, good, but it results in MLK Interlude which is simply a quote from Dr. King with absolutely no context or follow-up. You can argue that having the quote out there with nothing around it does more harm than good, because it looks like he is exploiting Dr. King’s work in order to sell records.
However, in column A is his track with Burna Boy: Loved by You. This is the Justin Bieber that I know and love. Have his smooth voice and excellent vocal range paired up with another hot pop artist, which in this case is Burna Boy. This is the same formula that gave us the fire remix of Bad Guy with Billie Eilish (who is a huge Bieber fan) and The Feeling with Halsey. In this case, Bieber engages in general pop themes about love’s trappings and how it’s difficult to move on from a relationship. This is pop songwriting 101, but it is not about the lyrics, but more about what Bieber and Burna Boy do with them.
Bieber’s track is more like a tech demo for the Playstation 5, it is not meant to give you a narrative experience, but show you how cool the graphics are. It’s like the marshmallow Peeps you get at Easter; they’re not meant to be food, but that yellow sugar tastes damn good. Bieber shows off all of his vocal range against an upbeat electro club background. His vocals are catchy with great pop hooks and fun to bob your head to. Then Burna Boy comes in with a smooth reggae inspired delivery, which compliments Bieber’s staccato pop quite well. Burna Boy has been climbing the music industry since his inclusion on Beyoncé’s Lion King record and doing a track with Bieber will only help increase his notoriety.
Say what you like about Justin Bieber, but he performs very well in duets / songs featuring other artists. He has an ability to change his style and delivery to compliment the other artist, which makes for some of his best tracks. Loved by You gets back to what I like about Bieber and what I like about Purpose, which is a fun pop song that I can get lost in.
Listen to Loved by You