Since the turn of the last decade, Justin Bieber has been the bonafide household name for teen-pop stardom.
From the release of his debut album “My World 2.0,” several other labels attempted to capitalize on his success by producing many imitators such as Cody Simpson and Austin Mahone. As Bieber grew up, so did his sound; his 2013 compilation album “Journals” showed the artist experiment with a fresh R&B sound. Bieber’s 2015 album “Purpose” highlighted his vocals with EDM instrumentals. Since his last album, the “Sorry” singer has gotten married and maintained an interest in returning to R&B for his next album.
Now, what happens when the formerly imitated artist comes across as an imitator?
On his new album “Changes,” Justin Bieber spans the majority of the 17 songs talking about his married life across a variety of monotonous and listless beats. His long hiatus since his previous album shows a regression in sheer artistry.
The lead single “Yummy” is a lyrically repetitive song that is more known now for Bieber and his management’s desperate campaign attempt to have it debut at the top of the Billboard Hot 100, only to be blocked by “The Box” by Roddy Rich. For an artist whose last endeavor felt like a return to form, this song feels artificially engineered to become an internet meme.
Lyrical repetitiveness becomes a running theme with this album. The vast majority of songs on this album follow a similar trap beat, which makes certain songs forgettable. The running theme of marriage makes Bieber come across as desperate to show that his domesticated life is not as boring as it sounds.
The performances of the featured artists are primarily hit-or-miss. Quavo’s performance in “Intentions” helps make the already single-worthy track standout from the rest. Kehlani’s vocal performance instills life into the promotional single “Get Me,” almost overtaking Bieber as the lead artist on the track while Post Malone and Clever’s verses on “Forever” further proves the two artists’ Midas Touch.
However, feature verses performed by Travis Scott and Lil Dicky for tracks “Second Emotion” and “Running Over,” respectively, add little to the songs and even, at times, make the melodies more agitating.
Toward the latter portion of the album, Bieber switches trap beats in exchange for acoustic instrumentals. The title track “Changes” is a breath of fresh air for the singer and gives listeners a glimpse of the potential greatness this album could’ve instilled if it were done properly.
The biggest crime of “Changes” is neither the obnoxious tribute songs regarding his marriage to Hailey Bieber nor is it the phoned-in vocal delivery, but rather the overall frustratingly mediocrity of it entirely. An A-list artist such as Bieber has access to the greatest talent in the industry, but this album feels about as inspired as a high school student trying out Soundcloud for the first time.
There was a time when a new song by Justin Bieber temporarily put the world on pause and stare in awe. Now, with the over-saturation of the market due to streaming services, Bieber is lucky if the world glances toward his direction with this album.