Impressions: Justin Bieber, Believe Acoustic

Justin Bieber, Believe Acoustic © Def Jam

An acoustic album is not for everybody – artistically that is.  There are few artists that can pull off an acoustic album capably.  Justin Bieber is not one of those, period (no if’s, no ands, no but’s).  Believe Acoustic sounded pointless prior to listening to it (conceptually speaking)  and proves even more so after spending 40 minutes doing so. Bieber, an artist who depends so much on hip production work to propel him doesn’t even possess half of the “swaggy” he possesses on Believe – which is arguable at best anyways. Ultimately, Believe Acoustic seems to be another part of Bieber’s promotional campaign as opposed to a truly notable new release.  On a positive note, it costs just $7.99…

The big problem with a pop star the likes of Justin Bieber recording an acoustic album is that it really makes no sense.  Is Bieber trying to show more range as an artist by continuing to record acoustic albums or does he think he sounds good acoustically? I don’t understand his reasoning, but the type of records he records don’t constitute the singer/songwriter treatment necessarily.  I’m not trying to be a hater, but Believe Acoustic was ultimately a bore and more often than not, I found Bieber trying to ‘over-sing’ and over do it with runs to compensate for the more intimate environment led by acoustic guitar in most instances.  Just being honest.

1. “Boyfriend – Works OK acoustically. Bieber actually SINGS his more hip-hop oriented lines in this acoustic version. Um again, “fondue” and “Buzz Lightyear” are firsts to be associated with singer/songwriter acoustic fare… :-/

2. “As Long As You Love Me – Bieber makes the terrible mistake of attempting to fill in for Big Sean himself. And honestly, that verse by Big Sean is odd (“you’re my hallelujah…”).  His timing on “L-l-l-love” seems a bit too slow and relaxed as well… Good acoustic guitar playing by the musicians – that’s a redeeming point

3. “Beauty and a Beat” – Really, this number as an acoustic cut? No, just no. The original version bugs me.

4. “She Don’t Like The Lights” – It works acoustically – not the second coming, but ya know. If nothing else, the acoustic guitar accompaniment  is sound.

5. “Take You” – Basically, we’ve already heard this one. “Take You ” already featured acoustic guitars, so it’s really nothing new. Forgettable.

6. “Be Alright” – Is it sad I didn’t remember “Be Alright” from Believe off the top of my head? No because it wasn’t the main attraction. Here, Bieber is overindulgent vocally, trying to incite excitement. A switch from acoustic guitar to piano helps…

7. “All Around the World” – This opened Believe only so-so, so an acoustic take doesn’t make up for its averageness (or mediocrity depending where you stand).

8. “Fall [Live]” – Listening to this is like watching paint dry. Bieber presents himself as an energetic, swagger-laden teenager, but it doesn’t show on this blasé performance.

9. “Yellow Raincoat” – Bieber sings in a hushed manner that further puts you to sleep. The listener understands Bieber’s cool, calm approach to this new cut, but it’s by no means the second coming or incredibly memorable.  

10. “I Would” – Okay being positive first – Bieber is best when supported by more instrumentation than an acoustic guitar or merely piano.  Why? Because he doesn’t have to try to compensate vocally with a million runs.  Also this cut is a bit faster than many, and by this point, the listener needs TEMPO! Negatively, I’m not sold that a song that sounds very similar to John Mayer‘s “Waiting On The World To Change” (Continuum) really is up Bieber’s alley.  At times, Bieber sounds as if he has something in his mouth as he sings, his falsetto is thin, and his vocal tone is inconsistent. Just being honest.  I like the fact he has more production, but even it seems like it’s missing something.

11. “Nothing Like Us” – Finally the end has arrived.  Once more rather than enthralling us with something quicker and more exciting, Bieber bores us with another hushed, stripped cut accompanied by piano that remains rather static. I don’t see Bieber’s fan base desiring a cut like this… I’m not that fan base mind you, but even if this is geared towards a twenty-something like myself,  it is only so-so.

Essentially, Bieber needs to stick to pop with full production work. He can sing runs (I suppose…), as he showcased on Believe, but an acoustic Justin Bieber album…NO, JUST DON’T DO IT. Bieber, your true fans will wait for you to record a new studio album… I guess…

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