Justin Bieber releases a mature dance-pop record

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It’s hard to believe Justin Bieber signed his first record deal with Def Jam over seven years ago. His career as a pop star might be controversial, but with his fourth album, Purpose, he tries to change the minds of critics by rebranding himself.

Bieber began his career singing some of the most generic and sappiest love ballads imaginable, targeting a young teenage audience. As the Canadian singer songwriter grew older, he began to speak his mind through his art. Although his image suffered after several public stunts, his artistic goals matured with him. Purpose, released Friday, combines production and songwriting from dozens of artists in an attempt to reinvent Bieber’s image.

While it might be advertised otherwise, Purpose is a true pop album at its core. With more than 20 producers and 25 writing credits, every track is calculated by a team of talented individuals. Some might argue that this removes the human aspect to Bieber’s music. Instead, the majority of songs don’t feel repetitive or generic, and Bieber himself contributed heavily to the album’s lyrics.

During “The Feeling,” Bieber sings, “I’m notorious for thinking you’re full of beautiful,” a line that might go over well with Beliebers, but is far too corny to be taken seriously. The spoken word piece in “Purpose,” also strikes the wrong chord. Bieber might have composed it to portray his true emotions, but it comes off as a slightly creepy and off-putting moment.

In “I Show You,” Bieber sings, “Life’s now easy, I’m not made out of steel. Don’t forget that I’m human, don’t forget that I’m real,” attempting to display his newfound humility. Whether his modesty throughout this record is actually sincere or just a gambit for his fame, Bieber manages to stay convincing at crucial moments.

His lyrics might suffer at times, but his vocal quality is as steady as ever. Although beats occasionally trump his vocals, Bieber is able to convey some form of emotion with the majority of his lines. This
backfires at times, bringing the listener too close to many of his poorly written lyrics.

Several tracks feature a slightly robotic delivery from Bieber, but some of the major producers of Purpose, including Skrillex, Blood Pop and Diplo, use their beats to pick up a fair amount of the slack. From Purpose’s introductory song “Mark My Words,” to the disco hit “Where Are Ü Now,” each song’s mixing and sampling trumps Bieber’s lyrical content, providing the most interesting aspects of the album. 

The singles off Purpose are some of the catchiest music modern pop has to offer. Because of its catchy hook and dance-inducing beat, “Sorry,” which was written about his past relationship with Selena Gomez, has the potential to become a hit among audiences across all age groups.

Although it might not be the album of the year, Purpose is the album Justin Bieber needed to create. With it, Bieber reintroduces himself, proving that he’s growing up.

At times, Bieber’s humble attitude becomes redundant, but the album feels surprisingly sincere. Artistically, Purpose is a slight victory, leaving a lot to be desired in terms of lyrics and instrumentation, but it manages to keep Justin Bieber’s name among some of the most famous pop stars in today’s music scene.

Purpose

  • Genre: Dance-Pop
  • Tracks: 13
  • Rating: 2.5/5