Justin Bieber's Believe: A Friendly Chat About Its Merits, Its Hooks, And Its Foray Into "Arena Moombahton"


Justin Bieber feat. Drake, "Right Here"

NM: Love the Greatest American Hero comparison. This record works from so many angles, and in a way that's much deeper and more interesting that the "This the track for the teens! This is the track for the club-goers! This is the track for the serious listeners!" approach. There aren't many listeners who could listen to these songs with an open mind and not find something for them, even if it's as simple as the flashbulbs recalling an 'N Sync album track. I love watching Questlove geek out over the crispness of the "Right Here" drums on twitter yesterday, and not just because it verified my similar reaction.

MJ: Don't you think that's indicative of the environment he came up in though? Like, I was talking to a friend of mine about this, about how kids Bieber's age have had access to so much music that shifting through styles is natural for them.

MJ: The question is, though, is there one song that will sway the non-believers—the people who operate from a default position that any artist who appeals to teenage girls has nothing to offer and never will?

MJ: I think that "Out Of Town Girl" could be it, if you cut out the big at the end where he says "swag" 80 or so times.

NM: I would have picked "Boyfriend," since it's such a departure from anything on My World 2.0, and because those types are often impressed by minimalism. "Out of Town Girl" would work too. That being said, does Bieber need to appeal to those people? At this point, the burden is on them, right?

MJ: Well if he wants a No. 1 hit on the Hot 100 he sort of does, no? And frankly, given the caliber of cameos on the album—Drake! Minaj!—I'm surprised that adults still seem cool toward him. Does he need to find a Timbaland and put out a more singular statement, a la FutureSex/LoveSounds?

NM: Is there a Timbaland to find?

MJ: Danja?

MJ: (Kidding.)

NM: Ha.

MJ: But there is a bit of a behind-the-scenes hodgepodge going on here. Max Martin, Diplo, Mike Posner (swoon)...

NM: Yeah, do you think Bieber's problem is that the producers who dominate pop the way Tim and the Neptunes did way back when—I'm thinking of guys like Guetta and Calvin Harris—don't really make songs for vocalists, or end up producing out many of the differences between them? Not sure the extent to which that's true, and there are obvious exceptions (Gaga/RedOne, for instance), but it seems like on some level, he's on his own right now.


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