In 20 years, we’ll all memorialize June 19th as a red letter day in the history of “swaggie.” Today is release day for Justin Bieber’s Believe.
We all know this thing is going to be commercially massive. Even if Justin Bieber released an experimental album of fart noises, it would single-handedly keep nearly-defunct chain record stores in business for another year, give or take. And in a way, any kind of hyper-critical assessment we thrust upon Believe is inconsequential, because, let’s face it, it’s just not really for us.
So what do we stand to gain from this track-by-track review, then? Perspective, maybe. If we can make our appraisal of Believe an exchange instead of a straight-up evaluation, maybe we’ll get some insight as to why this album will undoubtedly be so important to Justin’s fan base. That’s what’s really fascinating, isn’t it? Is Believe being received positively, or are his once die-hard fans outgrowing the Stratford son, just as he’s growing up himself?
That, ladies and gents, was our earnest attempt to intellectualize the fact that we’ve got an uncontrollable impulse to laugh at how how pure (if a little delusional) the Beliebers’ devotion to their beloved is. Somehow, that pseudo-intellectual justification makes us feel a little less guilty about what we’re about to do.
Here’s how this is going to shake down. Right after Believe leaked in full, we scoured Twitter for reviews of each track by one of Justin’s devotees. For each song, we’ll post a tweet-length summary of what we think of it, and then we’ll counter with an actual tweet about the song from the feed of a genuine Belieber. Remember — it’s about gaining perspective through differing experiences. Sort of. Here we go.
01. All Around The World feat. Ludacris
We Say: Justin starts things off with a cascading club anthem, speaking directly to his global legion of zealots. It’s nice to see Ludacris and Justin working together again. Do you think they’re really good friends?
Oh myyyyy, All around the world – @justinbieber is his best song yet, I’m in love, literally, omg
— Tallie Guy (@tallieguy) June 14, 2012
We Say: A confuddled acousti-rap grower, complete with whispers, whale noises, and questionable lyrics. It’s a shocking choice for a first single, but the lyrical content made it a guaranteed hit with Beliebers.
My favorite part of the song Boyfriend by J. Biebs is when he says, “Swagggggie.” :)
— Bryelle Skettini (@bryelleskettini) June 11, 2012
03. As Long As You Love Me feat. Big Sean
We Say: A Darkchild-produced “light-dubstep” (Bieb-step?) banger with a throwaway feature from Big Sean. Despite the song title, there’s no hat-tip to the Backstreet Boys to be found. Somehwere, A.J. is pissed.
Justin’s voice. Perfect. Big Sean’s part. Perfect. The Dubstep Part. Perfect. The Lyrics. Perfect. As Long As You Love Me. Perfect.
— dzennaн † (@Jerrycondanator) June 11, 2012
04. Catching Feelings
We Say: An acoustic ballad, with well-placed chimes that evoke a distinct 90s R&B vibe — very Boyz II Men. There’s some really nice soft-register vocal work here from Justin.
Listening to Catching Feelings makes me give you the biggest hug in the world even more. I love you @justinbieber. Thank you :)
— Believe. (@Bieber_Cuddle) June 18, 2012
05. Take You
We Say: Digital, glitchy production, and a pounding four-on-the-floor chorus make this one a standout. What’s most impressive about Believe so far is the subtlety in Justin’s melodic choices. He’s never too showy with his runs, and it’s not for lack of ability — it always serves the song. It’s more satisfying to hear him hit a solid note than attempt an obviously auto-tuned vocal run (see: every Chris Brown song ever).
— You Mad Bro?! (@LegitBoyBelieba) June 18, 2012
06. Right Here feat. Drake
We Say: We’re happy to report that Drake’s moody, introspective emo-rap didn’t set the tone for this collaboration. Drake and Bieber trade verses on this pleasant Hit-Boy-produced love song. Now Justin can save the self-doubt for his mid-twenties.
justin bieber’s song right here with drake makes me feel like taking off my clothes….
— king jerry ♔ (@kidraulsmile) June 19, 2012
We Say: There’s a surprising amount of acoustic guitar-driven music on this record, and “Fall” is a good example of that. Aren’t you kind of proud of Justin for not just getting RedOne to produce every single song on this record? We don’t want another “Starships” fiasco on our hands.
OKAAAYY FALL IS CUTEST SONG EVER WILL YOU BE MY BEST FRIEND AND DEDICATE THAT SONG TO ME? @justinbieber
— |BubblesBieber♥| (@LiaManuela) June 19, 2012
08. Die In Your Arms
We Say: The Jackson 5/Motown influence is out of control on this one, but even the cheesy spoken-word R&B ad-libs can’t detract from how fun this song is. Fair warning: if you start snapping your fingers along to this one, you will not be able to stop, which leads to thumb cramps. There should be a “thumb cramp advisory” sticker on album covers, to warn parents about the development of rheumatoid arthritis as a result of excessive finger-snapping. Maybe.
DIE IN YOUR ARMS. JUSTIN IM DEAD ALREADY WHOLYY SHITT!
— Believe♥ (@Juz10sGurrl) June 12, 2012
09. Thought Of You
We Say: The opening few bars of this song sound like a reverb-soaked guitar, so assuming your iTunes library looks a lot like ours, don’t be surprised if you mistake it for an Interpol song when it comes on shuffle. A fantastic beat from Diplo, and a playful falsetto hook in the chorus solidify this as our certified FAVOURITE JAM on the record.
im in love with the thought of you justin, we laugh, we do everything for justin. were the bieber family. i love u so so much @justinbieber
— Biebermalife (@biebermalife) June 18, 2012
10. Beauty And A Beat feat. Nicki Minaj
We Say: Nicki Minaj manages to rhyme “weiner” with “Selener.” We manage to barf.
Crying at how perfect Beauty And A Beat is.
— Belieber. (@TheBieberShizz) June 18, 2012
11. One Love
We Say: “One Love” fails to impress, maybe because it lands somewhere between the two aesthetic extremes that define Believe. It’s too subtle to be a relentless dance anthem, and it’s too synthetic to be a proper slow jam.
Just twisted my ankle running back to my room to make the chorus of one love @justinbieber – dedication that is reply worthy I reckon
— Charlotte Harris (@charlottecnh) June 18, 2012
12. Be Alright
We Say: This soothing acoustic finger-pickin’ ballad seems designed to fend off pre-teen panic attacks, as Justin sings “everything’s gonna be alright” over a guitar-piece that sounds like “Tears In Heaven,” if it wasn’t such a goddamned downer. Listen for the adorable giggle at the end of the song, and know that at any given moment, it’s melting roughly ten thousand hearts per second.
— j-biebez biggest fan (@jb1673) June 18, 2012
We Say: The title track of Believe is a pretty face-value “thank-you” card from Justin to his fans. It’s an emotional power ballad that wouldn’t be out of place as a score to an inspirational montage featuring various non-descript triumphs of the will. When the gospel choir comes in, it makes you want to stand up and sway, and realize every single one of those silly boyhood dreams.
believe the song is so emotional! makes me cry. aww this whole album is flawless. I love you @justinbieber :)
— kirsten† (@kfcjustin) June 18, 2012
14. Out Of Town Girl
We Say: Justin is legal now, but this song feels way too sexy. Lyrically, you think it would make Selena raise an eyebrow. Still, his effected vocals sit well on top of what seems like a Timbaland-influenced beat. He sings “all you gotta do is swag,” as if that’s a straightforward instruction. Am I swagging right now? If you have to ask, you’re probably not swagging.
out of town girl is like amazing. how can EVERY song be amazing how?! oh wait it’s justin bieber
— Arm.(@CheekyBieber) June 16, 2012
15. She Don’t Like The Lights
We Say: Judging by the camera shutter samples at the beginning of this song, we can wager a guess that these unlikable “lights” are flash-bulbs. And word on the street is that in this case, “she” refers to Justin’s current girlfriend Selena Gomez. It’s a dark, grimy electro-pop picture of a sometimes frustrating struggle with being young and famous. Maybe she doesn’t like the lights, but she’s gotta like that pile of money she sleeps on.
As I listen Justin Bieber – She Don’t Like The Lights .. I’m wondering why Justin haven’t broke up with Selena already .
— B.E.L.I.E.V.E. (@Be_My_HStyles) June 18, 2012
We Say: Ooh, sweet melodious controversy. This track opens with the now infamous television clip of Justin responding to allegations that he’d fathered a child with Mariah Yeater, saying he’d “never met the woman.” It’s 2012′s answer to “Billie Jean,” right down to the “that ain’t my baby” chorus. Now all we can do is cross our fingers for a dual live-performance/paternity test on Maury. As we near the end of the record, it’s surprising that there haven’t been more clear single-worthy songs. There’s no obvious equivalent to “Baby” or “Somebody To Love” on Believe. Is it a conscious diversion, or is it not for lack of trying?
I’m sorry but Maria is such a badass song. he’s all like IN YO FACE BITCH, I NEVER MET YOU HOW CAN I MAKE YOU PREGGERS @justinbieber
— ♥ mah-reeh-am. (@l0vebugforjonas) June 18, 2012
Standout Tracks: “Take You,” “Thought of You,” and “Believe.”
Despite the absence of undeniable hits-in-waiting, Believe provides a pretty solid, diverse listening experience. It doesn’t have a cohesive sound, but given the genre-hopping, that was never the point. Justin is flexing his varied musical interests, and doing a pretty damn good job of striking a balance. Obviously, the Belieber reactions have been very hyperbolic in their positivity, but it’s not entirely unfounded. Believe seems to have been a labour of love for Justin, and holy shit, it’s easy to see that his fans adore him for it.
What’s the difference between being a fan of any other pop-star, and being a fan of Justin Bieber? With Justin, it’s more of a shared experience. The kid continually goes out of his way to make his fans realize that they’re playing a huge role in his progression as an artist. On the album’s title track, he sings “Where would I be if you didn’t believe?”
Judging by these fan reactions, he’ll never have to answer that question.