Album review: “Changes” for the worse or the better?


Emily Tan

An edit of Justin Bieber’s “Changes” and “Purpose” albums. “Changes” dropped on Feb. 14 with 17 tracks and six collaborations.

by Alysa Suleiman, Sports Reporter

The year is 2010. In a Youtube video online, stage lights flood the arena, filling the screen, as electric guitars, bases and drums crash to the beat of the swelling music. The beat drops, and the arena pulses with the heartbeat of the thousands of fans in the audience, belting out the lyrics in unison to the boy onstage who stole their hearts away.

After his EP debut in 2009, teen heartthrob Justin Bieber quickly rose to fame, amassing a surging crowd of “Beliebers,” fanatics of then 13-year-old Bieber’s effortlessly stylish bedhead, euphonious pre-pubescent crooning, and the earnest energy of a rising mega-star, humble yet heartfelt.

His first EP, My World, serenaded the millions of broken teenage hearts, shooting him to the top 100 Billboards and earning him the coveted spot of boy crush dream. 

Yet a decade later, the boy has become a man, and his childhood stardom has become common celebrity notoriety. As the years passed, his music began to reflect both the mental and emotional trauma he experienced, as well as his transformation of maturity.

Bieber’s newest and fifth studio album, “Changes,” is truly a change from the boy we once knew. But whereas his songs, boosted by his persona, used to be the newest, hottest toy on the block, his music itself no longer seems to receive its previous adoration and praise. 

“Changes” dropped on Feb. 14 with 17 tracks and six collaborations with major artists. In a 90-second teaser dropped on Christmas Eve, Bieber stated that his newest album featured “the music that [he’s] loved the most out of anything [he’s] done.”

Bieber claims that his early years of stardom took a fall after becoming involved with drug use, calling his past as “crazy scary” in an episode of his Youtube series, Seasons, which documents Bieber’s past and reveals his return to the entertainment world with the release of “Changes” his first album after five years. Although Bieber dealt with a heavy addiction to various drugs, he dedicates a large part of his successful recovery journey to wife Hailey Beiber (nee Baldwin).

To an audience in London’s Tape nightclub, Bieber announced: “I spoke to [Hailey] this morning — she is in LA. This whole album is super-dedicated to her and my love for her, and hopefully, that translates.” 

The grungy, edgy cover, featuring Bieber with his signature tattoos, eyes closed, and figure slightly hunched with a wash of grainy film-like red, and the word “changes’ ‘ in small, clean, graffiti-like lettering. From his drug incarceration and depression days, Bieber really does seem to have ‘changed’, reflecting his maturity and transformation into the lyrics of his new album.

Granted, the style of music is much more laid-back, neutral, and positive compared to previous albums such as “Purpose.” However, from an audience perspective, the album overall disappoints. The intent of the album exists, but the marketing does not. A number of the songs, such as “Intentions” seem to rely on repetition to form a catchy tune, creating a shallow perception of musicality and inducing boredom. 

Similarly, title track “Yummy” seems not only shallow and generic but with a bland tune. Professing to the entire world his thoughts on his wife, who’s “got that yummy, yum,” is not only objectifying her, but is another example to his audience, a majority of whom are youth, of a radical problem in today’s society: gender inequality.

Along with Bieber’s change into a new person, transition into a new life, and his intent to translate that message to the world, so too changes the audience of pop music, who no longer see Bieber as the “it” idol. Although the release of “Changes” holds the earnest intentions of the young boy from the past, the music both fails to serve as a positive role model for youth nor does it resonate or communicate with its listeners. As a result, Bieber’s “Changes” seem to only have been a solo journey for Bieber, this time, alone and without his Beliebers.