When the news broke that Justin Bieber would be making his comeback and the single “What Do You Mean?” was released, fans and non-fans alike anxiously awaited the arrival of Purpose. The album, which finally dropped on Nov. 13, is Bieber’s fourth studio album. Whether you want to admit it or not, we know you all have given it a listen once or twice—and by once or twice we mean maybe a couple hundred times. This album marks a turning point in Bieber’s acceptance as an artist. So, we decided to review Purpose from not one but two perspectives—the Longtime Belieber and the Bandwagon Belieber.
I caught the fever early—on Nov. 3, 2009 to be exact, when 15-year-old Justin Bieber made his debut on the Ellen DeGeneres show. His performance of “One Time” (complete with bouncy choreography, a dog tag around his neck and that signature long, side-swept hair) had me hooked and I spent that afternoon familiarizing myself with Kidrauhl on YouTube. That day, I became a tried and true Belieber, and what followed was years of watching closely as this talented kid from Stratford, Ontario became an international superstar. To further validate myself as a longtime Belieber: I have purchased a physical and digital copy of every album since My World (sometimes more than one, in the hopes of finding a golden ticket). I used to listen to this cover of Chris Brown’s “With You” on repeat while doing homework. When I first followed him on Twitter, he had less than 500,000 followers. My all-time favorite songs include the original “Where Are You Now”, “One Time (My Heart Edition)” and “Be Alright”, and I know that JB is at his absolute best when performing #withDanKanter.
Justin Bieber has come a long way in the nearly seven years since, with every new album release reflecting that. From My World to My World 2.0 and Believe to Journals, we have listened as his voice developed, his career flourished and his life in and out of the spotlight inspired lyrics. Each album has had its own unique sound, an effect of Justin continuing experiment within the music industry—and the EDM-influenced Purpose is no different.
As a longtime Belieber, listening to Purpose for the first time all the way through took some adjusting. New album, new sound, new stories to tell. It is apparent that Justin’s struggles over the last year or so have had an impact on him not only as a person but also his music. Purpose is a huge jump from his earlier light-hearted ballads and pop hits. The tracks have feeling. The lyrics come from a real place, and that makes Purpose a proper coming of age album. Naturally, I have since purchased the physical CD (from Walmart, because two exclusive songs) as well as the iTunes deluxe edition and listened to it in full a couple hundred times, falling in love with each song more and more with each replay.
Top 5 songs:
- Love Yourself
- No Pressure (feat. Big Sean)
I was never a “belieber.” Sure, I bopped my head to “Love Me”, “One Time” and “Baby,” but never openly proclaimed a love for Justin Bieber. I thought he was just another teeny-bopper trying to make it big with a fanbase of 12-year-olds. Sure, his tunes were catchy but I never pre-ordered his albums, went to his concerts or stalked his life. All that changed when “What Do You Mean?” came out. My roommate played it for me for the first time and after that, I didn’t want to stop playing it. Even more than that, I wanted more. I was a self-proclaimed belieber from that moment on.
For me, this was the first Bieber album that I was really hype about. The day it came out, I made sure it was the first thing I listened to on Spotify and let’s just say I haven’t stopped listening to it since. Way to go Bieber, you outdid yourself on this one. My top five favorite songs, in order, from Purpose are Sorry, What Do You Mean, Love Yourself, Company and The Feeling.
Top 5 songs:
- What Do You Mean?
- Love Yourself
- The Feeling
1. Mark My Words
Longtime Belieber: This track is one that Justin has had no hesitation in naming as his favorite on the album, and although it is not at the top of my favorites list, I can hear and feel the emotion connected to the song while listening. JB has also gone on record listing this track as one about his on again – off again relationship with Selena Gomez. The track itself is short, but his vocals are powerful. Overall, it’s a great track to open an album.
Bandwagon Belieber: While I don’t mind this track, it’s kind of boring to me. I do, however, think the song gets across a message and is a good opening to the rest of the tracks. The lyrics could obviously be directed towards a significant other, but could also be a message to his fans. He’s gotten himself into some trouble recently so he could be opening the album with a message that he’s going to give his fans his all and re-commit to them. I like the message behind the song, but wouldn’t listen to this one on repeat.
2. I’ll Show You
Bandwagon Belieber: When “I’ll Show You” came out, I was surprised it was a bit slower than the first two singles, but wasn’t completely disappointed. It was a bit refreshing that he slowed things down a bit. This song references his past troubles with “I gotta learn things, learn them the hard way” but also stands up to critics by saying “I’ll show you.” The slowed down pace of the song is perfect for the message but the beat within the background makes sure this track isn’t a snoozer.
3. What Do You Mean?
Longtime Belieber: I mean… this song is proof that Justin has reached his prime. Need I really say more? I think we can all agree this song is incredible.
Bandwagon Belieber: An infectious rhythm and relatable content makes this one of my favorite tracks of the album. You can’t help but tap along while the clock ticks and dance around as the chorus begins. Not to mention, everyone has dealt with mixed messages in their life. All around win with this one.
Longtime Belieber: To answer your question, Justin: no, it is not too late to say sorry. We missed you, but this song has carried your comeback and for that reason (and many others) “Sorry” makes my list of faves. It’s mainstream enough to attract new fans and real enough to pull at the heartstrings of those who always beliebed he’d make this comeback. Also, it’s even better when performed acoustically (#withDanKanter, naturally).
Bandwagon Belieber: Note to future boyfriend— if you ever need to apologize to me just play this song (singing along wouldn’t hurt either). I could listen to this song for the rest of my life and never get tired of it. When I hear the opening notes of this song followed by the trumpets that precede Bieber’s voice, a smile spreads across my face without any control. Plus, the dance music video is fabulous and I will never not attempt to dance like the girls in that (I still definitely can’t). Hands down my favorite song on the album.
5. Love Yourself
Longtime Belieber: This is my favorite song by far. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again—Justin is at his very best when left with nothing but his voice and a guitar (and, in this case, a trumpet). The track was co-written by Ed Sheeran and is very reflective of the English singer-songwriter’s style. It’s simple, it’s poetic, it’s just fantastic. On repeat forever.
Bandwagon Belieber: I love that this song is just his voice and minimal instruments. Even more so, I love how sassy this song is. It’s the perfect “we broke up but I’m totally over it” slap-in-the-face break-up song. Wonderful, just wonderful.
Longtime Belieber: This song made my list of favorites purely for the fact that I cannot listen to it without wanting dance. It has also been stuck in my head every day since hearing it. “Company” is one of the tracks that exemplifies Justin’s maturity as an artist. And since he asked… yes Justin, we can keep each other company.
Bandwagon Belieber: This is a song I keep re-playing from the album. It has a cool vibe and I like the suspense leading up to the chorus. Although there aren’t many lyrics to this one and Bieber’s voice isn’t showcased too much in this song, I still really like it. Jbiebs, you could be my company any day.
7. No Pressure (feat. Big Sean)
Longtime Belieber: This is also a favorite. It’s soulfulness reminds me of some early-days Bieber songs, and the collaboration with Big Sean is a good match. Also appreciated: the Empire reference to Cookie and Lucious. It’s the little things sometimes.
Bandwagon Belieber: This song has grown on me. I used to always skip it but recently I’ve been okay with it and just leaving it when it comes up while listening to the album. For me, the background noise and “you ain’t gotta make your mind up” gets a bit repetitive for my liking. Not my favorite song, but one worth listening to.
8. No Sense (feat. Travis Scott)
Longtime Belieber: There is always one song I tend to dislike, and this track is it. I don’t hate it—I just think it is disconnected from the rest of the album. It sounds OK, but Justin talent supersedes it.
Bandwagon Belieber: This is one that I skip most often on the album. It has somewhat of a cool and different vibe from the rest of the album, but it’s just not my favorite. Honestly, it is probably my least favorite of the album. I think maybe because Bieber is trying to go more towards hip-hop/rap with this song and that’s not how I see him as an artist.
9. The Feeling (feat. Halsey)
Longtime Belieber: This one took some getting used to. Halsey is a collaborator I did not expect, and her voice lends a new sound to Justin’s music. But after listening to it a few (couple hundred–joke still not old) times, I’m feeling it. A lot.
Bandwagon Belieber: I’m a big fan of this one. I think Halsey compliments Bieber’s voice really well and the song builds up and slows back down again in all of the right places. Plus, the lyrics behind the song are all too true for a lot of people. Are you really in love with the person in your relationship or just the relationship in general?
10. Life is Worth Living
Longtime Belieber: This track is another that Justin himself is deeply connected with. It speaks of his heart and his personal journey over the past year, and for that reason (along with the fact this it’s beautifully melodic) I love it.
Bandwagon Belieber: A beautiful song with a beautiful message. I think this song will touch a lot of people and maybe even help people who are in tough situations. I love that this is just his voice and a piano because it makes the amazing message very clear— life is worth living.
11. Where Are Ü Now
Longtime Belieber: Wasn’t sure if this was going to make it on the album, but I’m glad it did. This song will forever be known as the song that turned the haters into fans and reeled in the bandwagoners. Welcome back, JB. Please don’t ever make us ask where you are when we need your music again.
Bandwagon Belieber: The other techno track on this playlist thanks to Skrillex and Diplo is great. The beginning sets the tone for the song establishes the message and then the beat drops. It becomes more of a dance song you can dance to. For me, this song has gotten a bit old but I’ll still bop my head to it when it comes on.
Longtime Belieber: This song is sweet, and very Justin. As a longtime Belieber I am familiar with his compassion for those in need, especially when it comes to children. I also really like that the song is upbeat. It’s fun and has a great message. I approve.
Bandwagon Belieber: This is the most techno song on the album and I think this album needed one of these types of songs. It has a good meaning about fighting for our generation and inspiring generations to come, but is also a song people can just let loose and dance to. This is the song that just makes you want to jump up and down.
Longtime Belieber: “Purpose” lives up to its being the album’s title track, and is especially fitting as closing track as well. The song makes me nostalgic for the early days when it was just Justin and a guitar or a piano trying to impress the world. Again, he is at his best when it is just his voice singing his soul. This longtime Belieber couldn’t be prouder.
Bandwagon Belieber: I’m glad this is the last song on the album. It closes out the album perfectly and brings the whole thing full circle. The lyrics “I put my all into your hands, here’s my soul to keep. I let you in with all that I can…” and “you’ve blessed me with the best gift that I’ve ever known, you give me purpose” to me seems like it could be directed towards a significant other or the fans and I think it’s to his fans. He opens with the tracks of “Mark My Words” and “I’ll Show You” and then throughout the album shows us how he’s grown and changed. It also gives his fans a bit of insight into his faith as well. I think it was a smart move to make this the album title as well because this, to me at least, is the ultimate message he wanted to get across to his fans.
What did you think of Purpose? Let us know by tweeting @valleymag!
Reviews by Longtime Belieber Amanda Hunt (EIC) and Bandwagon Belieber Meghan Reinhardt (Web Director).