Back in 2009, Justin Bieber released his debut single “One Time” and has basked in the limelight ever since. With the world watching his career, expectations were high for his latest album “Believe.”
It lives up — the combination of heartthrob vocals and killer dance beats is torture to your knees in all the right ways. But the album almost tries too hard. Almost.
The dance-heavy album consists of 16 tracks, four of which feature other high-profile artists. Ludacris reunites with the Biebs on the opening track “All Around the World.” “Take Care” features fellow Canadian artist, Drake. Nicki Minaj brings her sass to “Beauty and a Beat.” Even rapper Big Sean lends his voice to the track “As Long As You Love Me.”
“As Long As You Love Me” was immediately a favorite of mine. Dipping one foot into dubstep territory and leaving the other in his trademark pool of romantic hooks, the song shows Justin’s growth in an intoxicating, catchy way. Then Big Sean comes in.
“I don’t know if this makes sense but, you’re my hallelujah,” he raps.
He’s right, it doesn’t make sense and feels unnecessary — an excuse to feature another big name on an album that needs no help in being successful. I skip through his verse while listening in my car, but the track is still destined for the repeat button.
Minaj’s part on “Beauty and a Beat” feels more natural. Max Martin, who has worked with stars like Usher and Britney Spears, and Zedd, a German DJ who appeared with Skrillex on multiple shows last year, produced the track. Minaj has no problem meshing with the beat of the song, rhyming “Bieber” and “ether” with “wiener” and “Selener.” I’m not kidding, but the song works.
“Die In Your Arms” is one of the album’s slower tracks. Released as the second promotional single, the song is soulful, sweet and lyrically what you would expect from Bieber. “If I could just die in your arms, I wouldn’t mind, cause every time you touch me I just die in your arms.” The track even samples “We’ve Got A Good Thing Going” by the late Michael Jackson, Bieber’s musical idol. It’s pure matured-Bieber goodness, and might win the singer a new fan or two.
The titular track “Believe” also steps off the dance floor. It’s a nice break, but it’s a track that only diehard “Beliebers” would listen to, a ballad for those who supported the star during his rise to fame. It’s on the cheesy side and feels suited for the closing credits of a Disney Channel movie. I’m sure Bieber will never lose his appreciation for his fans, but somewhere down the line it’ll no longer be appropriate for him to sing about his surprise stardom.
After listening to the album in its entirety, “Thought of You” is the track my neighbors will happily be waking up to for the rest of the summer. Bieber sings about an infatuation and the flirty lyrics mirror his dazzling personality. Then the dance beat hits like a love drunk buzz. And the best part, the song does not feature anyone. It is Justin Bieber and no one else, grown up and doing what he’s best at: inducing a blushing Bieber fever dream.
Bieber had a lot riding on this album. Fans and haters alike were curious to see if his talent could last and grow with him. It has, and while he is by no means done growing as an artist, he has developed into a young adult on and off the stage.
The lead single “Boyfriend” will forever be at the forefront of the album, but for those who want to see just how much the world’s biggest heartthrob has grown, “Believe” will be available on iTunes and in stores June 19.Contact Eric Ramirez.