Justin Bieber, What Do You Mean? – Single Review


Justin Bieber, What Do You Mean © Def Jam

Justin Bieber delivers pleasant new single with “What Do You Mean?”

Justin Bieber • What Do You Mean – Single • Def Jam • Release Date: August 28, 2015

For the most part, in 2015 it seems as if pop star Justin Bieber has been able to avoid controversy – he should be happy about this. Yes, he did have his butt cheeks on display on instagram, but so did John Legend, right? Considering he’s done much worse, showing his behind wasn’t a deal breaker for him rebuilding something of a tarnished reputation. He hasn’t completely rebuilt himself and may never, but 21-year old Bieber has made some strides. Furthermore, he had a cool single come out thanks to Diplo and Skrillex with “Where Are Ü Now.”

He returns with his own single, “What Do You Mean” which suggests he may finally be ready to step back into the spotlight which certainly has been harmful to him personally. Sure, you can detach the music from the man, but sometimes it’s difficult to do and Bieber in his early career was one easy to criticize because of his youthfulness and his cockiness, particularly considering his self-belief his own music was something like the ‘second coming.’ Maybe this time around that he’s slightly older he’s ready to handle fame and his overall attitude and demeanor better.

So how does “What Do You Mean?” stack up? It’s a pleasant single that’s easy on the ears. Vocally, Bieber doesn’t push too hard nor does he under-sing; he gives a balanced performance. There’s a poise about “What Do You Mean” that doesn’t require extra histrionics or show boating – it’s a danceable urban-pop single that seems to have the sound of 2015 clearly in mind. Does it reinvent the wheel or more sensibly pop music? No, but it’s certainly above average.

The most notable things about “What Do You Mean?” is the air of maturity about Beiber. Vocally he sounds much more polished. His falsetto is still on the thin side, but he also doesn’t try to flaunt it because its as if he knows he’s best in the middle register of the voice. The production, much like Bieber’s own poise, is slick enough but not overdone, which makes this particular song shine as well.

Ultimately, “What Do You Mean?” is a winner but not a game changer. It won’t win a championship and may not reach, say number one on the Billboard Hot 100, but there’s definitely something there. Hopefully the humbleness Bieber shows on “What Do You Mean” translates to the rest of his forthcoming album, career, and personal life.

★★★½

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