Cover of My World 2.0 by Justin Bieber

#RethinkThursday: Justin Beiber’s “My World 2.0”

This is part of an ongoing series called Rethink Thursday, in which I revisit albums that I remember either loving or hating, to see if I was wrong about them. As I listen I review the album, track by track plus overall commentary, and you get to share that with everyone you know on Facebook.

Sadly, after I wrote today’s track-by-track review, WordPress deleted all but the first half of the post, which you see below. I’ve gone back and written my overall reaction, but this week will not feature a live review of the album. No, I don’t want to spend 40 minutes re-re-visiting a Bieber alubm.

Five years ago this month, you and I faced something of a reckoning. The Internet — and the heart of every female under 22 — had found a new god. He was Canadian, and he had very nice hair.

Justin Bieber doesn’t need much of an introduction, so I’ll mostly skip the usual lead-in and cut straight to the live review. But just a few things worth sharing before we jump in:

  1. The Biebs had just turned 16 when My World 2.0 was released in March of 2010. Which means he was 15, maybe even 14, when it was recorded. I’m keeping that in mind as we go.
  2. My World 2.0 was the first album since The Beatles to premiere atop the Billboard 200, and go on to sell more copies in its second week than in its first. SINCE. THE. BEATLES. (Granted, that was a Beatles compilation released in 2000. But still.)
  3. With this album, Bieber became the youngest male solo artist to hit #1 on the Billboard 200. Who held that honor up to the year 2000? Stevie freaking Wonder, in 1963. Forty-seven years before.
  4. The month after My World 2.0 came out, Justin Bieber was the musical guest on SNL. That was made even huger because it was the same episode with Tina Fey‘s triumphant SNL return, this time as host. The kid was still 16 years old. Know what I was doing at 16? Wondering if I should take the ACT, and trying to get Lara Gilliland to kiss me.

You and I can find a lot of reasons to hate on the boy wonder, but those are impressive facts. I’m trying to keep an open mind.

One more thing that’s helped me stay open to potentially enjoying this album is the recent release of a track by Skrillex and Diplo, who together are calling themselves Jack Ü, featuring none other than Justin Beiber. I heard it — and LOVED it — before I knew it was the kid singing. Here’s the song:

I told you it was good. And working with Skrillex is a surprise move that can give real street cred to a guy who’s been trying to find it in the wrong ways.

Ok. Mind opening. Hating over. Biases going out the window. Time machine set to 2010. Flux capacitor engaged.

Ready to go? I am.

WAIT NO I’M NOT!

*15 seconds of deep breathing*

Ok let’s do this.


What I think I’ll say when it’s over:

Now there’s 37 minutes and 37 seconds of my life I’ll never get back. Someone pass the valium?

What I’m saying now that it’s done.

I’m actually glad I went back and revisited this one. (I feel like I say that every week.) Sure, I suffered through 2/3 of this thing but there were some genuine, enjoyable diamonds among the fool’s gold of pop singles.

I’d skip the first four tracks and start right at “Runaway Love”, which differs from the rest of the album in that it allows teenage Bieber’s voice to resonate as it could have the whole time. I thought momentarily, when “Runaway Love” started, that Usher might have come across some lost recordings of a very young Michael Jackson. And the track could have been the creation of Quincy Jones himself. It was a scary moment for me: this was almost a gateway drug into Liking Justin Bieber.

The kid’s voice, at this early stage in his career, seems like it was better suited for pretty than for power: it lends gravitas to ballad tracks that without his gifts would have simply been Disney Channel fluff. (See tracks 7 and 9, “Overboard” and “Up”.) And on the straight-ahead pop songs, with all their production bravado, his voice actually pales in comparison to the big-room arrangements. (See track 2, “Somebody to Love”.) Not sure that would happen now.

I’m enough of a snob to feel shame when I tell you I’ll be listening to some of this album again. But I will in fact be listening. Especially to the highlights mentioned above — “Runaway Love”, “Overboard”, and “Up”. And for the first time in my life, I’m actually interested to see what The Biebs does with the rest of his career. I wish him the best.

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