As I have been entrusted with the responsibility of writing the second instalment of our new column, with the added pressure of this week’s number one being the same as last week’s, I think it only right that I begin with a confession. I love Justin Bieber. I did, in fact, spend several of my younger school years as a “Belieber”. I didn’t think it would be fair to approach this column without letting you in on my not-so-secret secret. However, having loved Justin Bieber with all my fifteen-year-old heart, I did then take a break from it all and sat back and joined the rest of the world in observing the predictable behaviour of a teen who got too famous too soon. Therefore, I can assure you that I approach his comeback with a completely unbiased open mind…sort of. Anyway, now you know a bit about me, shall I get on with it?
Last week, my fellow PearShaped writer Harry Williams presented a rather skeptical view of JB’s return, but did grant Bieber fair props for his “polished vocals” and “tropical house vibe” on this new track. Personally, I am ecstatic about his return. Back in 2012, I hailed Boyfriend as the smartest move in Bieber’s career. I remember it as the song that made all the boys in my year at school, who previously reveled in taking the piss out of Justin’s pre-pubescent voice and floppy hair, suddenly turn around and go “Actually this is a bloody great tune” - everybody loved that song, they still do. However, it wasn’t followed with a lasting re-charge in the teen’s career. Instead there was that awful deposition video, egging of his neighbour’s house, and several very controversial comments in the media; it wasn’t looking good for Biebs. But, three years and several apologies later, he’s back, and he’s done it again. Sure, if I put What Do You Mean? on in a social situation, the majority of the room still roll their eyes and mutter something like “Oh God, not Justin Bieber,” but ten seconds later, everyone is singing along.
The thing is, Justin Bieber’s talent is undeniable. The list of musical instruments (including those panpipes) in his repertoire is endless, and he’s been playing them all since he was about two years old. His voice is clearly a gift, laced with R&B smoothness and sensuality – is it really any wonder teenage girls all over the world (myself included) practically faint on the spot every time he opens his mouth? What’s more, he clearly knows his strengths and what’s going to work. Talking to Ryan Seacrest about his new album, Bieber stressed, “I’ve been in the studio, just trying to have a consistent sound.” Some have considered What Do You Mean? as a kind of sequel to his collaboration with producer Skrillex on Where Are U Now; the songs certainly have a similar island-chill vibe. I think it’s safe to say, if this is the sound he’s going for - clear, cool, synth-heavy pop - his new album, Purpose, is going to be amazing.
Of course, the number 1 comes not without controversy. This is Justin Bieber after all. And I do agree with some criticisms. Biebs, let’s please stop painting girls as fickle, hysterical lovers “preaching” their opinions. I’m not even going to talk about the video *rolls eyes*. But, perhaps Harry was right last week in suggesting that JB is ultimately harmless and, unfortunately, just a bit ignorant.
After all, JB does know how to produce an absolute tune - I think topping the charts four weeks running speaks for itself, really. What Do You Mean? is a very smart single. Its catchy, cool, current, and everybody loves it. In conclusion, I cannot flipping wait for November 13th (also because One Direction’s album comes out then too…)