40% percent of the people I know are ‘Beliebers’. Another 40% of the people I know have a hatred of Justin Bieber. The other 20% are neutral. I have always considered myself with the 20%. Besides “U Smile”, I hadn’t really cared much for the music from his first album. However, I have always believed he was talented and seemed like a good kid. I’ve always thought the haters were too harsh and mean spirited.
Now that Bieber is 18, it’s his time to show a more matured sound. “Believe”, his second album, is what “Off The Wall” was to Michael Jackson and what “Justified” was to Justin Timberlake. And the music here is more mature than what he’s done before. But it is not that mature. The lyrics are always lighthearted and simple, nothing sophisticated. His voice has shown growth and improvement (and I think he’s a pretty good singer). Stylistically, there are more R&B influences and the production is edgier. There’s help from new electronic producers like Diplo and Zedd, and new hip-hop/R&B producers like Bei Maejor and Hit-Boy.
Overall, I like most of the songs on the album. It will convince some that were previously in the neutral camp (like me). It won’t convince virtually any of the haters, though (they don’t like this type of music, so why bother). “Off The Wall” era Michael Jackson is probably Bieber’s biggest influence on this album. Like Jackson, Bieber blends pop, R&B, and dance, and can achieve equally with upbeat songs and ballads. It’s not as good as “Off The Wall”, but that a HARD feat to fill.
“Catching Feeling”, the fourth track on the album, directly copies the sound of “Off The Wall”. “Die In Your Arms” samples an early 70s Jackson song and channels Jackson during that era. The rest of the album is modern sounding. Like most rhythmic pop artists nowadays, the album is informed largely by both Euro dance-pop and American R&B. My favorite tracks are “Right Here” (R&B/hip-hop song featuring Drake), “Beauty and The Beat” (upbeat electro-pop) and “One Love” (dance-inflected ballad).
Bieber has potential to make even better music when he’s older, and I’m confident he will.