‘Believe’ is more bad Bieber

Patrick Duggan, Staff Reporter

The last time I listened to Justin Bieber, he was the newly discovered 15-year-old YouTube phenomenon, well on his way to making both millions of dollars and millions of 12-year-old hearts melt with his bouncy pop dance tune, “One Time.” The adoration of his pre-teen fan base, self-dubbed “Beliebers,” has caused near-riots in public places and vicious cyber attacks toward any girl who dares come near, let alone date, the Biebs.
Now, after releasing three studio albums, Bieber-swooners have Believe Acoustic to add to their collection. With eight unplugged reissues of songs from his 2012 album, Believe, and three new songs, Bieber continues to be one of those artists that you either love or hate. For me, listening to this album was like driving past a bad car pileup: you don’t want to witness the horror, but you can’t help but slow down to look.
The opening track, “Boyfriend” is perhaps just as sultry as the original studio version, and with lyrics that suggest an evening of eating fondue by the fireplace, listening to this song would pair well with watching a Nicholas Sparks film or reading a Harlequin novel. The next song, “As Long as You Love Me,” sets the tone for the rest of the album. Each song incorporates the same pick-up line lyrics, cheesy love themes, and monotonous guitar strum patterns. “Beauty and the Beat” was an impressive track – compared up to the original version, that is. While the original song featured overwhelming synths and an electronic solo that feels all wrong, the acoustic version isn’t all that bad.
Although Bieber is pictured on the album cover holding a guitar, most of the guitar work is done by studio professionals, further diminishing his credibility as a serious musician. The guitar tracks don’t vary much, and the only relief from the monotony comes from moments of piano in “Be Alright” and “Nothing like Us.” His vocals, however, tinted with R&B and hints of Justin Timberlake post N-sync, are impressive, despite his use of auto-tune and heavy production. Believe Acoustic is successful in reminding fans why he was originally scouted on YouTube in the first place – his raw vocal ability.
Overall, Believe Acoustic is uninventive and layered with heavy production and auto-tune, and features invariably bland lyrics. It feels more a like a calculated move geared toward all the teenage “shawtys” than a genuine artistic release. Beliebers will no doubt enjoy the all-new renderings of his signature teen-love ballads, and this album’s emotional characteristic and turned-down quality might be enough to make it to some hardcore fans’ favorites lists. However, for anyone else, Believe Acoustic is exactly what you’d expect it to be – a collection of forgettable pop songs.