Purpose – Justin Bieber (2015)

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Justin Bieber is a Canadian singer who shot to fame in 2010 with his debut album “My World 2.0”. Bieber was 16 years old at the time of release and achieved massive success.

Since this time he has released one other album (two if you count his Christmas effort) and struggled to make the transition from teen star to a mature adult with his personality often assassinated by the press and his subsequent behavior in his personal life and at live performances has also been under the spotlight.

Justin Bieber has been there to give teenage girls something to drool over and something to follow with absolute passion. The music Bieber had previously released was of no real consequence as it was there to appeal to a certain market and has done just that. But while similar artists such as One Direction knew when it was time to end Justin Bieber has insisted on ploughing through and making that transition from throwaway teen sensation to a credible artist.

Due to his marketability Bieber is afforded a massive budget to bring in some top producers which ensure the album sounds fresh, clean and creative.

“Mark My Words” is the albums opener and it’s Bieber giving a tribute to his fans who have stuck with him and that the reason why he is doing this is for them.

“I’ll Show You” starts with the personal lyrics:

“My life is a movie
And everyone’s watchin’
So let’s get to the good part
And past all the nonsense” 

This track either sees Bieber really aware of how his life has changed or it is a little disingenuous to try and make the listener feel sorry for his celebrity life and we mustn’t forget that he is human. I’m not really buying his great plight.

“What Do You Mean” is the third track. This was a number one world wide and gave Bieber a hit that he probably needed in the charts to give him the proof that the music buying public will buy his music no matter what is splashed around in the press.

The fact is though – “What do you mean” is awful. It’s awful for a few reasons but the lyrics really irk me.

“What do you mean?
When you nod your head yes
But you wanna say no
What do you mean?”

Well Justin, I think you know what she means. You are clearly aware that she does not want to engage in anything you have in mind but is clearly afraid to tell you. What gets me is that you are here singing a song and displaying a complete awareness of what this girl is thinking.

Said we’re running out of time
What do you mean?
What do you mean?
Better make up your mind
What do you mean?

What I would like to know is what does he mean when he says they are running out of time and she better make up her mind? Does he mean that if she doesn’t decided he will leave her? Or something even more sinister?

Perhaps it is being a little dramatic but this song seems to be about abuse and if Bieber was trying to show that males that are impatient with girls then the song could find credibility but the song doesn’t display anything other than a spoilt male who thinks he is God’s gift to women and they either puts out of get lost.

“Sorry” is Bieber attempting to be apologetic yet comes across anything but. He gives us an insight into his behavior:

“I know you know that I
Made those mistakes maybe once or twice
And by once or twice I Mean
Maybe a couple a hundred times”

He doesn’t really come across exactly sorry for anything and is using the word to try and excuse himself. I get little emotion from his voice that he perhaps has regret or remorse about his actions. The vocal is souless.

“Love Yourself” sees Bieber telling this girl that he is moving on and that this she was someone even his mother didn’t like and she likes everyone! The problems in this relationship was because this girl fancied herself too much and she should therefore go and “love herself”.

How Bieber has the cheek to describe anyone else as a little up themselves is quite extraordinary. The plus side of this track is that it suits Bieber’s voice much better as he sings in a low key over a simply acoustic guitar with some horns brought in. A well produced piece.

“Company” is a convoluted story about having a one night stand. He goes around the houses in his conversation with this girl about there being no pressure and no complications just keeping each other company. The smooth beat is a real contempory R&B sound. It sounds modern and flows well from beginning to end.

Big Sean features on the next track “No Pressure” which sees Bieber attempt his most soulful track on the album. He attempts to show some range on his vocal but never really hits where he wants to go to especially in the second verse when he says “I’m the only one to blame”.

The rap from Big Sean is quite funny with references to Street Fighter and TV show Empire.

American rapper Travis Scott features on the next track “No Sense“. It carries on the feel of the previous track in what I would consider Bieber’s deeper delve into the world of contemporary R&B. I would question how accessible for Bieber’s long times fans a track like this would be but I would think this is a deliberate ploy to move away from the Justin Bieber of old.

“The Feeling” is one of four tracks on the album produced by Skrillex. The production on this track is one of the standouts on “Purpose”. The track features vocals from female singer Halsey. It’s a track questioning the current love status in their relationship and what being apart might be like.

“Life Worth Living” is a piano led ballad which is some way away from the darker R&B leanings of other tracks on “Purpose”. He sound a little less whiny than previous tracks as he attempts to give a positive message about life.

“Where Are You Now” is a song which had been released by Jack U which is the collaborative effort from American producers Skrillex and Diplo with Bieber on vocals. This was an important track for Bieber as it made a lot of people sit up and take notice of him other than to criticise him and follow with the line “I hate Justin Bieber”. Arguably a Bieber hater would be more annoyed by this song which is quite good.

“Where Are You Now” is by far the best song on the album. It sounds like nothing else on here and for me you can’t argue that it isn’t an interesting song. I find it’s tone very dark and extremely moody. Bieber doesn’t over stretch his un-stretchable voice and the beat will fill many a dancefloor.

“Children” is a really strong track marred only by Bieber’s vocals. You could have just played this track without the unesscasry verses and it would have been a winner. This could certainly be a single and is one of the standout tracks.

“Purpose” finishes with “Purpose”. Piano led Bieber sings with a little more vulnerability than he has previously done so on this album.

“Feeling like I’m breathing my last breath
Feeling like I’m walking my last steps
Look at all of these tears I’ve wept
Look at all the promises that I’ve kept”

Whilst heartfelt lyrics I just struggle to be convinced by Bieber. Perhaps if I went into the album not knowing who he was, or looking at the front cover of the album I would get a different impression of him. So in that sense this review is tainted but then again the whole package is what is being sold.

The biggest problem with the album is that Justin Bieber just isn’t a great singer. It’s difficult for any teenage sensation to continue as the voice is always going to change and Bieber just doesn’t have any real range. He could be anyone and there will come a point where his fans will age and he will need to appeal to the wider masses which I am not sure this album does.

It’s certainly not a terrible album but if you want EDM, R&B, or acoustic numbers there are much better options out there than Purpose.

Rating

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