This weekend is filled with new music from Billie Eilish for the new “Bond” movie to the latest from Justin Bieber, Sam Smith and more.
A decade after the world was formally introduced to Justin Bieber, the teen hearthrob is all grown up and back with his latest musical installment.
Friday brings “Changes,” Bieber’s fifth studio album. At 25, he’s been mega-famous for nearly half his life. And just as fans have been able to listen to his music mature, they’ve been privy to his complicated personal life.
Bieber’s musical eras can’t be looked at quite the same way as, say, Taylor Swift’s, since he usually doesn’t write his lyrics solo. But his albums have nevertheless ended up reflecting different points in the young singer’s life.
“My World” thrust him into fame. The world couldn’t get enough of the adolescent’s music – or hairstyle. “Under the Mistletoe” gave us a rocking holiday song, and collaborations with Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men showed Bieber was anointed into pop’s inner circle. “Believe” was a less-than-stellar transition from teen stardom to all-out swagger. He rebounded with “Purpose,” making us believe he could go the distance. When Bieber canceled the final stretch of the accompanying tour, it showed us he was still grappling with the weight of fame.
“Changes” could give us insight into a new grown-up and married Bieber. Or it could be another road bump on his path to musical maturity.
Until Friday, when we know for sure, we’re looking back on how each album has represented Bieber’s life and career.
‘My World 2.0’ (2010)
Who didn’t have “Baby” stuck in their head in 2010? The album that launched a Canadian kid with a YouTube channel to superstardom featured a number of earworm-y love songs (“Somebody to Love,” “U Smile,” “Never Let You Go”) from a kid whose voice had yet to change. This marked the era of a teen popstar who ruled the young market and made every middle school boy grow out his hair into that signature Bieber Flow.
‘Under the Mistletoe’ (2011)
This one is far and away Bieber’s least remarkable album. It also followed “My World 2.0” so closely it’s tough to discern the two as separate eras. But it did bring us the title track “Mistletoe,” one of the greatest modern pop holiday songs – don’t @ me.
That same year also brought us his documentary, “Never Say Never,” sending flocks of Bieber Fever-ridden middle school girls to movie theaters in purple hoodies.
Bieber’s third album in three years featured a few enjoyable, catchy songs. But at other times symbolized an awkward, rocky transition from a teen pop sensation to an 18-year-old who didn’t just want to sing about holding a girl’s hand (“All Around The World,” “As Long As You Love Me,” “Beauty and A Beat”).
Remember in “Boyfriend” when he sang “Swag on you / chillin’ by the fire while we eatin’ fondue?” Yikes.
Outside of music, this is the time when Bieber’s personal life began to get publicly messy. Tabloids began covering his on-again, off-again relationship with Disney Channel star Selena Gomez and dating rumors surrounding Stephen Baldwin’s daughter Hailey.
The musician also had run-ins with the law. A handful of reckless driving incidents began in 2012 and continued over the next few years – most notably in 2014, when he was arrested in Miami on charges of drunk driving, resisting arrest and driving without a valid license after police said he was drag racing a yellow Lamborghini.
Bieber seemed to turn over a new leaf, personally and professionally, with “Purpose.” This was the album that gave the rest of the world, fair or not, permission to say they were Bieber fans. Not only were several tracks hits on the radio and clubs, they reflected a well-executed maturation on his part.
“Sorry,” “Love Yourself,” “Where are U Now” and “What Do You Mean?” all depicted a more grown-up approach to relationships: Love isn’t as simple as calling a girl “baby” or “shawty,” 21-year-old Bieber seemed to discover in his fourth studio album. And even with more nuanced lyrics, the songs were just as catchy as his old stuff.
But two years after the album’s release, Bieber announced he would be canceling three months worth of remaining “Purpose” tour shows, marking another troubling moment for the young performer. Meanwhile, his and Gomez’s will-they-won’t-they narrative continued in the press until 2018 when he quickly reconnected with and proposed to model Hailey Baldwin.
We don’t yet know what “Changes” sounds like, apart from the three singles (“Yummy,” “Intentions” and “Get Me”) he’s already released. But we know what’s going on in Bieber’s personal life, in part because of his new YouTube docuseries, “Seasons”.
The Biebs is now a married man and vocal advocate for his and others’ mental and physical health. If the rest of the album reflects that personal growth, this could be his best to date. But if those sub-par singles are any indication, maybe “Purpose” was the peak of his adult career.
Bieber’s songs through the years have perfected the fun, repetitive earworm. But those three singles, the repetitive, unstudied “Yummy” in particular, don’t have the same effect.
In general, the tracks released so far sound a lot like old Bieber in that they’re full of blanket statements about generic love. It’s cute to hear a 15-year-old singing a song about what he thinks it means to love someone. What does adult, in-love-for-real Bieber have to say about romance?
It better be more than just “yummy” over and over (and over) again.
‘Justin Bieber is back’: Singer enthralls fans with first ‘SNL’ appearance since 2013
Read or Share this story: https://www.usatoday.com/story/entertainment/music/2020/02/12/justin-bieber-changes-album-musical-personal-evolution/4723512002/