Hate to do this, but it must be done. Before I destroy this album, I’d like to offer my general thoughts on Justin Bieber’s career. His rise to stardom has been less than glamorous. Since his previous LP — a refreshing mix of dance-pop and heartfelt balladry — music has not been a priority. Through a Christian rebirth and a Lyme disease diagnosis, the demon of fame weighs heavily on young Bieber. Nowadays he looks to God and romance for healing. His recent marriage to Hailey Baldwin takes center stage here. I commend Justin for taking the initiative to find help and better himself. Nevertheless, this apathetic excuse of an album fails to maturely detail any sort of authentic emotion. I sympathize with him because he didn’t ask for this type of fame as a tween. Yet simultaneously someone who he respects should have stepped in on this one.
Because damn. This album is staler than Michael Jordan’s closet. Right from the start, Changes finds every opportunity to underwhelm and over-compliment. The lovey-dovey lyrics heard throughout this 52-minute burden display little to no emotional depth. As a matter of fact, these lyrics are hardly even lyrics. Don’t even get me started on “Yummy.” Time and time again here Justin seems to pick a word and pair it with the closest rhyme within his mental reach. When “expeditiously” is the deepest word in your vocab, you might need to go back to the drawing board. Originality is non-existent on this album. He trades a coherent pen for la-la-la’s. It’s clear following a release like this that Justin Bieber needs an industry writing team just to break even. And the producers on this thing should be on rising artists’ do-not-hire list due to how much vanilla pop-trap garbage appears.
This is a holdover album if I’ve ever heard one. I’m pretty sure even Justin feels this way. He knows he has to bounce back from an epic blunder like Changes. Contractual obligation, especially in mainstream pop music, leads to more than its fair share of dud albums. While listening through this, I found a glaring similarity between Changes and Kanye’s latest release. On Jesus is King, Kanye claims all his efforts were for the Lord. What resulted was a head-scratching pigsty of meme rap and lazy, minimalist instrumentals. If this was for the Lord, why was it by far his worst album? The same goes for this record. Bieber offers a pledge of eternal love for his wife, which sounds nice. Yet in practice his efforts are utterly laughable. “Though I’m going through changes don’t mean that I changed.” Bro, what? At least try to string something sensible together.
No one can convince me that this title track isn’t a sonic rip-off of Lloyd and Ashanti’s “Southside” track. Conversely, there are a couple things I didn’t hate. Despite undercooking all of his lyrics here, Justin’s voice still sounds crisp and fluid. Dude sings well. But when under the spotlight, it is not enough to distract me from how unimaginative and behind the times these songs are. He continues to play catch-up in a pop landscape that grows more diverse by the season. Biting Drake, Weeknd, and Travis Scott soundscapes aren’t going to save any artist. With as much budget and star power surrounding Justin Bieber, the people around him should know better than to release something this caliber of forgettable. Furthermore, “Yummy” might be the worst song I’ve ever heard, considering his rapport with other talented artists and producers. All in all, Changes is an embarrassment to mainstream pop.
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