This week, teen-idol-of-the-moment Justin Bieber released his second proper full-length, Believe, a record studded with cameos by the likes of Drake and Nicki Minaj and stuffed with different styles of musicfrom R&B to simply sung acoustic-guitar balladry to something that's either arena rock or moombahton, or maybe a hybrid of both. (The song in question was produced by Diplo, so the latter might very well be true.) In the wake of this monumental pop event, the Voice's Maura Johnston and Nick Murray got on the horn (or, rather, Gchat) to discuss the album.
Maura Johnston: So the official narrative goes that Justin Bieber's Believe is his "growth" album, the one where he gets rid of the floppy hair and lets his changed voice lead the proceedings. His... justification of himself as an artist, if you will. And I guess the last track on the album, "Maria," is the exclamation point on that statementit's a broadside against the woman who famously accused him of fathering her child last year.
Nick Murray: Yeah totally, and it's a bit unexpected to hear something so specific and so autobiographical at the end of an album whose lyrics are almost unanimously generic. I don't mean that in a bad way, of course, just that when Bieber tells us(?), someone(?), Selena(?), whoever, that he could just die in our arms, he's not revealing much about himself. That being said, I think the albums last few tracks are particularly smart. "Maria" is the broadside, but it's a sympathetic one, particularly following "She Don't Like the Lights," which uses camera flashes as percussion (the teenpop equivalent to the gun sounds in Waka's "Bustin' at Em?" and tells the opposite story, of a girl who avoids fame rather than seeks it.More »