People around my age will always have a weird and special connection to Justin Bieber. He has been making music consistently since he and I were about 14, and we have watched this man grow up before our eyes. No one has grown up in the public eye the way that Justin Bieber has. He has had a truly unique experience, being judged and treated like a grown adult since a very young age. Every mistake he has made in his personal life has been brutally scrutinized, and he has had so many people rooting against him since he was a kid. Musically, he has been as successful as anyone over the last 13 years. He has made hit after hit, topping the charts with pretty much anything he has dropped for over a decade. Not everything he has released has been his best, but for the most part, his music has held a high quality and standard since his career started. Unfortunately, his most recent album, Changes, was not his most well-received critically, but it did make him the youngest artist to have 7 number-one albums on the Billboard charts. I do not know if Justin was just inspired by being quarantined for the last year or if he felt the negativity about the last record and wanted to rectify it, but he has already dropped a new full-length album, Justice. On his last album, it felt like he tried to draw a lot of influence from Hip Hop and R&B, but this record is unapologetically Pop. It is almost as if Justin tried to go back to his roots. With that being said, this is how I feel about Justin Bieber’s new album Justice. Please let me know in the comments below if you agree with my assessment, and let me know what your favorite tracks from this record are in the comments as well.
The first track on the record, ‘2 Much,’ starts with a famous Martin Luther King quote. It is a little weird to start the album like this, but I get the sentiment considering all of the racial injustice in our country and the protests that happened last year as a result. ‘2 Much’ is an acoustic Pop piano ballad about how much he loves spending time with his wife. He wants to always be by her side because he loves everything about her and everything she does. It is a very sweet song. I will say, though, I kept expecting a beat to come in. The song feels like eventually, some sort of drum pattern will come in to create a little tempo, and it does not happen. Fans of acoustic piano Pop should love this song, but to me, it is just a bit too slow. The next song, ‘Deserve You,’ has a similar feeling to ‘2 Much,’ but this one does have a drum pattern and tempo. It is another piano-driven love ballad that is very sweet and honest and happy sounding. ‘Deserve You’ sort of sounds like a combination of 90s R&B and 80s Pop-Rock. It does have a unique sound that is tough to put into a box or genre. On ‘Deserve You,’ Justin Bieber is remarking about how lucky he is to be with his wife. He knows that because of what he has done and who he has been in the past, she probably should not have wanted to be with him, but he is very grateful because she has changed his life for the better. Following this, we get ‘As I Am,’ which features Khalid. Justin probably could not have picked a better feature for this track, as this song sounds like it could be a Khalid song. The theme of adapting to the sound of the feature is a theme on this record, which is okay with me because it shows how diverse Justin Bieber can be with his song. This track has an Electro-Pop-Rock sound that is kind of soft and low-key in the verses while being very bold and grand on the chorus. Since this song sounds like it could be one of his songs, Khalid sound very natural on this track. On ‘As I Am,’ Justin is grappling with the fact that he does not think he deserves to be with his life. He knows that he can not change who he is, though, and implores her to accept him for all his good qualities and bad qualities. ‘Off My Face’ has a completely different sound from the first three songs, but it does have a similar low-key and sweet energy to them. ‘Off My Face’ is an acoustic guitar-driven track that has a Folk sound to it. Folk music has been very popular over the last couple of years, so it does not surprise me that Bieber decided to go this route. I actually would not remind hearing Bieber pursue this sound more in the future, as it highlights the quality of his voice very well. On ‘Off My Face,’ Justin Bieber is comparing his love for his wife to being super high. She makes him feel so giddy and out of his mind that he compares it to being stoned. This is an interesting lyrical concept to hear on a song like this, but it does work pretty well.
I tried to scare you, scare you away. Showed you the door, you adored me anyway. When I was broken in pieces, you were my peace of mind. You were my peace of mind… ‘Unstable’ feat. The Kid Laroi
‘Holy,’ which features Chance The Rapper, is the song that made most Justin Bieber fans believe he is back in his element. It made people forget about all the reasons they did not like the album Changes and put him back at the top of the Pop music world. Even though it is a super popular song, ‘Holy’ just is not a song that I can get into. The melody and overall flow of the song just sound like it is a “Church-Trap” song. To me, the melody and beat sound like a Christian Youth group tried to make a Hip Hop song. The performances by Justin and Chance are fine, but I just can not get behind the melody and beat. On ‘Holy,’ Justin Bieber and Chance the Rapper are talking about how their significant others help them get through all of the bull crap that is going on in the world. Even though it seems like the world around them is falling apart, they are still happy because they have their wives by their sides. ‘Unstable,’ featuring The Kid Laroi, is another song where Justin totally adapts to the sound his feature is known for. This track has an Emo Acoustic Hip Hop sound; it’s almost like lo-fi Hip Hop mixed with low-key Emo-Pop music. It is a unique sound that has not been used much by anyone other than Laroi to this point. On this track, Bieber and The Kid Laroi are singing about how their significant others keep them grounded and sane when everything seems to be going wrong. If they didn’t have their person by their sides, they would probably spiral out of control. Following this, we get the ‘MLK Interlude,’ which honestly baffles me and has baffled a lot of other listeners as well. This interlude is a piece taken from a 1968 sermon from Martin Luther King about being willing to die for the truth and justice. I appreciate that Justin is trying to spread a good message with this piece, but the rest of the record has nothing to do with truth, justice, or race. It kind of just feels weird and out of place. The next song, ‘Die For You’ featuring Dominic Fike, is Justin’s dive in the 80s Electro-Pop revival sound that has taken over the music the last couple of years. Artists like The Weeknd, Dua Lipa, and Carly Rae Jepsen have been killing it with this sound, and I guess Justin wanted to take a crack at it. This attempt at an 80s Electro-Pop sound is successful from Justin Bieber and Dominic Fike, as they both sound very smooth and natural on this instrumental. On a song where the lyrical content is very literal to the title, both artists show why this sound is so popular right now and that they both can excel at it. I wish more of the album had a sound similar to this, as it fits Justin’s voice very well.
Out of the three singles released before Justice came out, ‘Hold On’ is probably my favorite one. On this track, Justin ventures into yet another type of music he has not made in the past. It has a bit of an Indie-Rock sound that reminds me a lot of the early 2000s. I can hear a lot of influence from bands like The Strokes and The Libertines on this song. Justin’s voice fits this Indie sound super well, and once again he sounds very natural on this kind of instrumental. On this track, Justin seems to be helping his wife overcome some of her feelings of self-doubt. As she goes through periods of self-loathing, Justin assures her that if he can make it back from rock bottom then she should be ok eventually and that he will be by her side through all of her ups and downs. Justin brings us back into his 80s Pop Revival mode with the song ‘Somebody.’ One thing I enjoy about this song is how warm and fuzzy the melody is. It is the kind of melody that just makes me want to smile and dance. There isn’t anything special about the vocals and instrumental to this track, though. I don’t want to call it filler because I do enjoy the melody but this is not a stand-out track for me. Lyrically, ‘Somebody’ is pretty basic as well. It is honestly just another typical love song with much substance or individuality. ‘Ghost,’ on the other hand, is easily one of the most unique and inventive songs on the record. There’s nothing on this project that compares to it. The beat for this one has a glitchy Hyper Pop feeling to it that I have never heard on a Justin Bieber song before. The guitar-driven melody on the chorus, however, has a bright acoustic Rock sound to it. This creates a very strange juxtaposition that you will not hear in pretty much any other song. I appreciate the inventive quality of this track because it shows that Justin is still willing to step outside of the box. Following this, we get ‘Peaches,’ which features Daniel Caesar and Giveon. ‘Peaches’ is quickly becoming a fan favorite from this record, as I think everyone loves the sweet and smooth qualities this track has. ‘Peaches’ has a funky Neo-R&B sound to it that reminds me a lot of Frank Ocean; I wish more of this record had a similar sound to ‘Peaches,’ as Justin excels vocally on this one and both of his features perform very well on it too. Lyrically, ‘Peaches’ is a little cheesy; one of the lines in the chorus goes: I get my peaches out in Georgia, I get my weed in California… As silly as this line and some of the other lyrics are, the vocal performances of all three artists on this track make up for it.
I need to make sure you know that you are the only one I’ll ever love. Yeah, you, if it’s not you, it’s not anyone. Looking back on my life, you’re the only good I’ve ever done. Yeah, you, if it’s not you, it’s not anyone. Not anyone… – ‘Anyone’
The next two tracks are probably my two personal favorite songs on Justice. The first of these two is ‘Love You Different,’ which features up-and-coming producer and Hip Hop artist Beam. ‘Love You Different’ is has a bit of a dancehall feeling to it which is super fun and funky. This is the kind of song that just makes me want to dance and have a good time. The melody is bright and colorful, and the beat is so infectious that it is almost impossible to not move your feet and bop your head while listening to it. Lyrically, this track is not much more than a sweet and simple love song; it is not too specific or deep. That is okay, though, as it is just meant to be a fun club track. The next song, ‘Loved By You,’ draws a lot of influence from its feature Burna Boy. Burna Boy, who is originally from Nigeria but currently lives and works in London, is one of my favorite international artists right now, as not only is his solo music great but every song he is featured on gains so much texture and flavor from his presence. ‘Loved By You’ has an Afrobeat beat and melody that are similar to a lot of the solo music that Burna Boy makes. Justin’s voice fits perfectly with this instrumental; honestly, I would love to hear him pursue this sound more in the future because it suits him so well. The only “complaint” I have about this track is that there is not more Burna Boy on it. I would have loved for him to have a longer verse or for him to have contributed to the bridge, but that is okay because the song is very good anyway. Lyrically, once again ‘Loved By You’ is not very sophisticated; in fact, the lyrical content perfectly matches up with its title. Another song that has emerged as a fan favorite is the song ‘Anyone.’ It is fitting that it is another song with an 80s Pop sound, as this style has music has become so popular over the last couple of years. This track is an infectious love ballad which is very fun that has a beat that makes you want to dance the night away. The instrumental reminds me a bit of artists like Laura Branigan or Belinda Carlisle. It is so infectious. The chorus is super addicting and easy to sing along to as well. ‘Anyone’ really is the perfect kind of Pop song for 2021. Justice rounds out with the song ‘Lonely,’ which was my favorite of the singles released in anticipation for this record. This song is very distinctive coming from Bieber, as he has never made anything like it. ‘Lonely’ is a piano-driven folk track where Justin pushes his vocals instead of singing like he normally does; he even yodels on the chorus. I wish more of the album had more of this kind of experimental sound because Justin nails it. Lyrically, this song compares to nothing on the album. ‘Lonely’ is about being in the spotlight and seemingly having it all, but having no one to relate to or talk to. It is a very deep and honest song and truly lets the listener see how Justin is feeling.
I am curious to know why Justin Bieber released this album so quickly after having one come out last year. He has never released a new album this soon after a previous one. I wonder if he felt the heat and negativity towards Changes and wanted to give fans something to enjoy. Justice has a lot of very good songs on it, but there is not much structure or continuity to this record. It almost feels like a (mostly)love song compilation playlist, as the music does have a general similar theme but the individual songs have almost no sonic similarities to each other. Justin Bieber’s Justice is full of good music that I am sure fans will love for a long time, but as a whole, it doesn’t have a ton of replay value because it feels like a collection of singles. In 2021 that seems to be an okay thing to do, though, so overall this record has a lot of quality.
Note: While I was working on this review, Justin Bieber released the Justice: Triple Chucks Deluxe version of the record. This deluxe edition includes 6 new tracks, including very good songs like ‘There She Go’ featuring Lil Uzi Vert, ‘I Can’t Be Myself’ featuring Jaden, and ‘Name’ featuring Tori Kelly. I feel like if he would have replaced some of the weaker songs on Justice with these, it would have been better. These tracks all have a similar sound and style, and they would probably fit in more than some of the slower songs at the beginning of the record.