Sunday, July 29, 2012

A sharp left turn into something else...

He has tons of screaming fans (most of them half my age) - and after thinking he'd put out 1 album and fizzle, then seeing the view counts still piling up on his latest videos, I had to give a "see what all the fuss was about" perusal.  You may not "Believe" but this week is covering Justin Bieber's latest.

"All Around The World" starts the disc off with a vocally-distorted dance-thumper that brings to mind the type of sounds found on Britney Spears' last disc - it treads that fine line between Paul Oakenfold techno ripoff and current-day pop dance hit of the moment - pleasant to dance to, but mostly forgettable start to this disc.

"Boyfriend" is as close to sheer pop candy-coated bliss as you can get - and yet the occasional whisper-chanted "Swag, swag, swag" almost ruins it - in one word.  Look past that, however, and you get a pleasant enough cooing ode to the ladies that imitates Justin Timberlake at his best just a bit too much.  And yet it pulls off that classic trick that the best pop songs have - slickly produced beats with just enough organic draped over the top to keep it from sounding too robotic.

"As Long as you love me" takes another page from the current-day techno-pop book with lyrics that are trite, but even if they aren't all that believable, it's still nice to hear someone who is [clearly] rich singing "we could be starving / we could be homeless / we could be broke / as long as you love me".  Again, you can't take it too seriously - yes, perhaps the person singing this doesn't actually feel that way - but if anything pop music is certainly not meant to be over-thought.

"Die In Your Arms" uses the fake-hand-clap fills a little much, but nevertheless pulls off a current-day homage to old-school Jackson 5 coy-swoon singing.  Again, you might be tempted to criticize the aping of styles, but he manages to keep it in homage territory and it doesn't sound TOO much like pilfering - which means it's still pleasant to listen to.
"The thought of you" pulls a 2-stepping Adam Levine (of Maroon 5 fame) falsetto-drenched ode to womanly perfection out of the ever-varied bag that is this album.
"Beauty and a beat" pulls some cringe-worthy lines, such as "We gonna party like it's 3012 tonight" - trying to out-Will Smith Will Smith with Willenium there Biebs?  Umm no, not going to work, sorry.

At the end of the day Bieber does have respectable chops and people behind him who know how to wrap them in up in a slick pop package.  Another reviewer described this disc as a "mostly harmless exercise in selling records" and that's why it's only ok, and not amazing.  One of the artists he emulates often on this disc, Justin Timberlake, crashed through the barriers of his boy-band past with the still-pop-but-definitely-weird Prince-ish disc "Futuresex/lovesounds".  Bieber may have an album that interesting in him - but only if he can emerge from the shadow of his fame (and handlers) will anyone in the world ever hear it.

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