Album Review: “Purpose” by Justin Bieber


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By Abigail Visco

Justin Bieber has changed drastically over the last few years, both for better and for worse. After being discovered on YouTube, Bieber began his music career in 2009 at age fifteen when his first studio album, My World, was released. The album was an instant success. It sold over 137,000 copies in a week, and all seven songs on the album made the Billboard Top 100.

However, not all listeners were pleased with what they heard. It was difficult for some to take such a young musician seriously. His voice was underdeveloped and the lyrics of his songs were juvenile.

Nonetheless, it was clear that he had the potential to be a great musician and songwriter. Bieber worked with a variety of established artists in his early career including Usher, Mariah Carey, Sean Kingston, and Drake. These older and more experienced pop musicians would not have worked with Bieber if they thought he lacked talent. He just needed some time to grow as an artist.

Sadly, Bieber’s image was tarnished by over exposure in the tabloids before anyone could witness any musical progress. In 2011, after the release of his second album, Believe, a series of scandals overpowered any press he was getting in regards to his music. The list of incidents is long, but it all came to a peak when Bieber was arrested for a DUI in January 2014, causing many to discount his music.

Right before his arrest, Bieber released his third studio album, Journals. But his behavior overshadowed the album, causing it to flop. Those who stood by Bieber’s side realized his music was beginning to change, this time for the better. He was no longer the fifteen year-old with the voice of a child. His lyrics were more mature and he took risks. The album gave the listeners some insight as to the direction of where his music was going.

After lying low and staying out of the spotlight, Bieber released his fourth studio album on November 13, 2015. Purpose offers a variety of different sounds to demonstrate that Bieber is not only a performer, but a talented writer and musician as well.

Before the album dropped, three singles were released: “What Do You Mean?” “Sorry,” and “I’ll Show You.” The first represents the pop side of the album. It debuted at number one on the Billboard Top 100, where it stayed for a week. The second and third releases offer a similar sound of contagious lyrics and catchy beats, but they also reveal the album’s purpose, which is for Bieber to admit to his mistakes.

As a whole, the album appears to be an apology to all of Bieber’s fans. In “I’ll Show You,” Bieber sings, “Sometimes it’s hard to do the right thing / When the pressure’s coming down like lightning.” And in the song “Purpose,” he isn’t afraid to tell the listener that he is far from perfect.

In addition to the album’s three hit singles, there are many other hidden gems. Bieber collaborated with a number of artists, including Halsey, Nas, Big Sean, Travi$ Scott, and Skrillex. Coming from varied genres, each artist offers a different sound that creates contrast throughout the album and allows each song to stand on its own.

Bieber also uses his songwriting skills and artistic vision to stay true to himself. He gives listeners his signature pop melodies with R&B influences on songs like “Company” and “No Sense.” Bieber also showcases his talent as a singer and songwriter by including songs with a more stripped down feel. For example, both “Life Worth Living” and “Purpose” feature only Bieber’s voice and a piano. Overall, the variety this album presents has something for everyone.

Purpose is definitely Bieber’s best album to date. It demonstrates his musical progression as well as his own personal growth. It shows that he isn’t afraid to be honest and vulnerable. This album is a big change for Bieber, and it seems like his career will only get stronger from here.

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