Justin Bieber changes the slightest bit on his new album

“Changes” doesn’t mean change for the better

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Justin Bieber's latest album "Changes" dropped on Valentine's Day. 

Courtesy Sebastian Vital

After coming off a long hiatus, Justin Bieber celebrated Valentine’s Day by dropping his new album, “Changes.” The Bieb’s 2015 album “Purpose” was beloved by die-hard fans and perhaps formulaic to casual listeners due to its lackluster vocals and forgettable features from Big Sean, Travis Scott and others.

However, the rollout of “Changes” has generated interest from fans, because during his hiatus Bieber released singles that were not typical of what he was known for. With tracks like “Despacito” (2017), a feature on DJ Khaled’s “I’m the One” (2017) and a collaboration with country duo Dan + Shay on “10,000 Hours” (2019), Bieber ventured into musical genres that he never had before, making it more likely he would bring a new, interesting sound to the album.

Also during his hiatus, a few important life events occurred for Justin Bieber. He won his first Grammy — Best Dance Recording in 2016 for his song “Where Are Ü Now,” a collaboration with Skrillex and Diplo — did his debut performance at Coachella in 2019 and got married to Hailey Baldwin.

So does Bieber bring a fresh, creative sound to his new album or does he fall back on his old tropes? The answer is a strange combination of both — leading to a disappointing and one-note album. Let’s start with what works on “Changes.”

Throughout his career, Bieber has gone from having an untrained and ostracized singing voice towards the beginning of his career to a pretty boring one nowadays. Thankfully on most of the tracks — specifically the opener “All Around Mem” as well as “Confirmation” and “Habitual” — Bieber brings textual, emotional vocals. 

Certain songs from his past sound so stale and auto-tuned that it wouldn’t be surprising if a male version of Siri was singing the whole time. The change now is because he’s singing from the heart, belting about his feelings in a manner he never really has before. But even that in itself becomes a problem when his lyrics can’t keep up with the power of his voice.

The other highlight of the album is the production. The beats have some rap and contemporary R&B influences which is a welcome change from Bieber’s typical pop-centric vibe. The highlight of “Changes” is definitely “Get Me,” featuring Kehlani. Bieber and Kehlani have great chemistry, provide wonderful vocals and have an interesting back-and-forth about how much they understand each other in a way no one else does. It’s very sweet.

The major problem with the album? Every single song — without fail — is about his relationship with Hailey Bieber. This could work, but Bieber looks at his relationship solely from a positive perspective of love. The most cringeworthy songs on the album — “Yummy” and “Running Over,” which has a feature from Lil Dicky — suffer the worst of this fate. 

“Yummy” has already been lambasted by the internet for its mediocre vocals and cringe-worthy lyrics — including a shameful Megan Thee Stallion reference — but there’s still more to complain about. The sad part about the song is the beat isn’t that bad and the message behind it is nice — a man gushing over the woman he loves with a cheeky, if unsubtle, double entendre. The problem is the execution, which feels so unnatural, like a corporation attempted to make the catchiest song possible with no artistic value, leaving it feeling empty. The album makes this even worse by including a remix with Summer Walker. It’s the opposite of “Get Me,” because Bieber and Walker have no chemistry. Although Walker is a beautiful singer, her vocals are flat and she sounds bored. It’s almost like she didn’t even try. 

“Running Over” is another song where the beat is not terrible, but the lyrics are cliché and the subject matter is boring. Bieber sings about falling in love with a girl from the moment he saw her — it’s pretty bland, but that seems to be the theme of this album. Lil Dicky is awful on this track, rapping cringe-worthy lyrics like “More buns than a Shop Rite.”

Similar to the features on this album from Travis Scott and Quavo — who are gifted artists on their own — the problem with pretty much all the features is that the songs are supposed to focus on how love has changed Bieber and made him more mature. But when someone else is on the song it makes it feel less personal — like it doesn’t come directly from the heart.

Pretty much everything else is a stale regurgitation of how much he loves his wife. A Bieber fan could make the excuse that that’s just what young love is like — you never see the problems in your relationship until you get older. The problem with that argument is Justin and Hailey have been in an on-and-off relationship for the last few years. It would have been interesting to see how it felt during the times they were split up compared to how they feel now, and what he has learned from Hailey.

Instead, Bieber delivers 17 repetitive songs that do not challenge his artistic abilities. The album is called “Changes,” but it does not even represent a huge change from his previous work. This album, just like his others, is filled with songs focused on love and created to appeal to the widest audience possible. Unless you’re a die-hard Bieber fan, “Changes” is not worth the time.

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