Arts & Culture

There’s no need to say sorry this time, Justin

Bieber’s new album, ‘Purpose,’ showcases mature sound, explores past love, future endeavours

By
Senior Staff Writer
Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Justin Bieber’s 18-song album “Purpose” was released Nov. 13 and has since reached number one on the Billboard 200 chart. “What Do You Mean?” and “Where Are Ü Now?” are two of the album’s most popular songs.

Dressed in true Justin Bieber fashion, the 21-year-old singer closed out the American Music Awards late last month clad in ripped jeans falling mid-thigh, a long white tee under a baggy beige sweatshirt, white Vans and a trucker hat. Bieber performed a never-before-heard medley of his latest hit singles including “What Do You Mean?,” “Where Are Ü Now?” and “Sorry” from his newly released album, “Purpose.”

The performance epitomized Bieber’s image. He opened with an acoustic rendition of “What Do You Mean?”, singing soulfully accompanied only by his guitarist. Though Bieber danced minimally, the song immediately attracted viewers’ attention. Suddenly, he ran to the center stage where beams of light struck the floor in vertical lines and the opening of “Where Are Ü Now” played through the speakers.

Bieber sang the beginning of the song before throwing the microphone to his left. A team of dancers made a pyramid formation behind him, and together the group broke it down.

Bieber is clearly an incredible dancer due to Usher’s influence. He incorporated robotic, jolted moves and some pop, lock and drop it alternatives.

With the close of the captivating number, the music paused and rain poured down onto Bieber as he moved to a third section of the stage. There he sang “Sorry” while kicking and splashing in the rain with the spirit of a 3-year-old. Bieber ended “Sorry” powerfully — on the final note he threw his head back and his fists into the air. His breakup with Selena Gomez was painful, and it was clear in that moment that he is still not over her.

Three years after the 2012 release of his last album, “Believe,” Bieber seems to be working to change his image and his target audience. As a teenager, he was known for the bangs that hung down to his eyebrows, his ill-fitting clothing style and his obsessive pre-teen fans nicknamed ‘Beliebers.’ With his new album, the hair is shorter with frosted tips, and the clothes still don’t fit right, but his music is sonically unique.

With an album consisting of primarily ballads and rap, his latest 18 songs contain nuanced emotion that comes only with personal experience and a greater knowledge of relationships. While “Believe” was played at middle school sleepovers, “Purpose” can be heard at playing at college house parties and blasting before collegiate athletic contests.

Some ‘Beliebers’ have grown up, but most listeners are new converts. College students are no longer embarrassed to say they are ‘Beliebers,’ and that is a compliment to Bieber.

The musician has come a long way over the last three years. The maturation of Bieber’s sound between “Believe” and “Purpose” implies his growth as a person as well. Bieber has defined himself through his new music, and it speaks volumes about his character. Since its Nov. 13 release, the album has garnered great success, reaching number one on the Billboard 200 chart during the week of Nov. 19.

In the opening seconds of “Purpose,” Bieber sings, “Mark my words. That’s all that I have.” He knows what the media has said about his past behavior. He knows his actions are not always seen. He recognizes that words are all people have to base him on. Though only two short phrases, this opening line is powerful and sets up a well-developed playlist.

In the second song, titled “I’ll Show You,” Bieber explains that as a child celebrity, he has grown up in the spotlight — an incredibly difficult circumstance. While he is not asking fans to pardon his behavior, he asks them to sympathize and understand the position he has been put in. He sings, “My life is a movie and everyone’s watching. … It’s hard to do the right thing when the pressure’s coming down like lightning.” Not many people have had the talent and fame he acquired at such a young age.

After explaining that he wants to be a better person and that he is working toward that goal, Bieber heads into murkier waters,  singing about his relationship with Selena Gomez. “What Do You Mean?” is about where their relationship went wrong and how it came to its bitter end. After setting the scene, Bieber finally gets around to apologizing in “Sorry.” On the track, he repeatedly asks: “Is it too late now to say sorry?”

It’s definitely not too late, Justin.

There’s still time to fix things and get back together. Except — Gomez wrote the song “Same Old Love” in response to “Sorry” and makes it quite clear that the relationship caused her too much pain and that the wounds are too deep to be healed. According to the song, Bieber and Gomez will never get back together, no matter the number of apologies (sigh).

In the songs “Love Yourself,” “Company” and “No Pressure,” Bieber struggles to come to terms with the relationship being over and vacillates between saying he will wait for her and that he wants nothing to do with her. But in “No Sense,” Bieber seems confused about everything. “The Feeling” questions his love for Selena ,and “Life Is Worth Living” is an ode to himself and a signal that he will be okay.

Then Bieber starts to get sad and sings “Where Are Ü Now?” While the song is upbeat, the lyrics are melancholy and a bit depressing. In the songs “Children” and “Purpose,” the 21-year-old singer starts to get serious about life, talking about his vision and how he can make a difference in the world. He reminds himself and his fans that he has greater plans for his future. In the final five songs of the album — “Been You,” “Get Used to It,” “We Are,” “Trust” and “All In It” — he sings about moving on from his first love and using the relationship as a learning experience.

The 18 songs are his best work so far. He packs overwhelming emotion and soul into his newest album.

Bieber is going on tour this spring and summer and will perform at the TD Garden in Boston May 10 and 11. You are not going to want to miss this show. Who knows? Maybe Selena will even show up, and he will serenade her with “Sorry.” But one thing is certain: Bieber is back in action and better than ever.

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