Justin Bieber: Justice review – tone-deaf pop posturing

(Def Jam)
Bieber hits a new low with this tone-deaf set of gushing love songs overlaid with the words of Martin Luther King Jr

There’s seizing a cultural moment, then there’s putting one of the greatest orators who ever lived on your album as a tone-deaf wheeze. Justin Bieber’s sixth studio album, Justice, opens with Martin Luther King Jr urging a firm stand against injustice; a later MLK interlude exhorts people to meet society’s challenges with moral courage.

Somehow, Bieber’s takeaway here is a solipsistic, God-bothering set of gushing pop songs about the redemptive powers of romantic love. “I can’t breathe without you,” he sings on Deserve You; “there were times when I couldn’t even breathe,” he adds on Unstable – not out of solidarity with victims of police brutality, but as a metaphor for needing his partner, or as a symptom of anxiety.

Dr King’s speech equates a lack of courage in the face of injustice as a kind of living death: Bieber follows up with an 80s dance-pop tune called Die for You, in which he vows to lay down his life for his wife. Meantime, songs like Peaches inform fans that Bieber endorses Georgia’s totem fruit crop and California-grown weed. Funniest pandemic record, hands down.

Watch the video for Deserve You by Justin Bieber.

Contributor

Kitty Empire

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Justin Bieber: Changes review – mid-tempo wedded bliss
The Canadian superstar is doing it for himself with an album of easygoing R&B

Michael Cragg

16, Feb, 2020 @1:00 PM

Article image
Justin Bieber review – arena dramatics and pure cheese
Bieber kicks off his Purpose world tour with maximum spectacle but little real feeling

Kitty Empire

15, Oct, 2016 @5:00 PM

Justin Bieber: Believe – review
Justin Bieber's third album has enough to suggest it might just see him start to appeal to an adult market, writes Hermione Hoby

Hermione Hoby

16, Jun, 2012 @11:05 PM

Article image
Justin Bieber; Katy Perry – review
Justin Bieber is proficient, Katy Perry a born performer, writes Kitty Empire

Kitty Empire

20, Mar, 2011 @12:05 AM

Article image
Justin Bieber; Carly Rae Jepsen – review

Justin Bieber is in no mood for apologies, despite disappointing his young fans with his late arrival. It betrays a lack of charm and humour, writes Tom Lamont

Tom Lamont

10, Mar, 2013 @12:05 AM

Justin Bieber: My Worlds – The Collection – review
Justin Bieber's fans may be grateful for one new tune from their 16-year-old idol, says Hermoine Hoby. As for the rest of us…

Hermione Hoby

21, Nov, 2010 @12:06 AM

Article image
Justin Bieber: Never Say Never 3D – review

Justin Bieber's concert movie is unimaginative, writes Philip French

Philip French

20, Feb, 2011 @12:05 AM

Article image
Justin Bieber: Purpose review – a grown-up sorry. Sort of
Justin Bieber’s transition from teen heart-throb to breathy R&B grown-up sounds purposeful but makes, er, no sense

Kitty Empire

15, Nov, 2015 @9:00 AM

Article image
Observer/Anthony Burgess runner-up essay: Justin Bieber, Purpose World Tour, Manchester, by Liam O’Brien
In this runner-up essay in the Observer/Anthony Burgess prize, O’Brien reflects on how fame turned a perky pop prodigy into a dead-eyed automaton

Liam O'Brien

26, Feb, 2017 @8:00 AM

Article image
Music review – Sia's tone-deaf treatment of autism
In the singer-songwriter’s simplistic directorial debut, a cartoonish portrayal of autism clashes with a tale of addiction

Simran Hans

14, Feb, 2021 @5:30 AM