Justin Bieber: Believe
Check it as da Beeb takes his first steps out on the slippery yellow brick road to adulthood, hopefully with career intact.So cue slick arrangements, transitional lyrics and the standard mix of comfy ballads and club bangers.
It’s a soft shuffle onto the glory road laid out for the other Justin, when Timberlake had to make the transition from teen idol to cougar bait. It had to be soft, as befits any testing of the waters, especially as the Beeb’s pipes still have that kiddie warble.
Likewise with the lyrics, which handle the burgeoning sex thing via the most PG of sentiments, studded with wistful looks and hopes to “touch your body”.
While on the surface it might seem a slam-dunk, the Bieber posse did a savvy job with this most important stepping-stone of an album.
From the brand-buffing guest stars, Ludacris (“I love everything about you / You’re imperfectly perfect”), Big Sean (“I don’t know if this makes sense, but you’re my hallelujah”), Nicki Minaj and especially Drake, whose contributions are likewise warm and fuzzy as the ones quoted, this thing’s designed to hug and kiss Bieber’s teenycore audience. Both only as friends, ‘kay?
In this regard, “Maria” stands out like a cold sore on Selena Gomez as the only ‘adult’ track on the album. It’s crafted as a slapdown to the woman who accused Bieber of fathering her child in 2011 and comes off as an opportunistic rip on “Billie Jean.” This one leaves a sourish aftertaste and probably won’t see singlehood.
Not least because there are so many other non-contro ones to fill the bill; “All Around The World” has infectious summer hit all over it, the Usheresque “Out Of Town Girl” and the Diplo-produced “Thought Of You’ are likewise on point and “Boyfriend” still has juice as one of the year’s best pop singles.
As transition albums go, Believe is awful tentative but all things considered, it’s mission accomplished and it should see the top of the charts any day now.