Under the Mistletoe by Justin Bieber (Island Records, 2001. 38 Minutes)
Born in 1994, Justin Bieber has received several awards including a Juno award for best pop album of the year for My World 2.0 in 2011. He was also nominated for Best New Artist and Best Pop Vocal Album at the 53rd Grammy Awards. A teen idol, his best known song is “Baby”, of which the music video is currently ranked as the most discussed Youtube video.
I’m not a Belieber
First, let me say I don’t like Justin Bieber, and never have. I find his teen pop vocals disturbingly bad, and frankly now that he’s no longer a high voiced soprano, any novelty that was associated with him is now gone.
I wanted to absolutely hate this album; I hoped this review would be plagued with jokes about Bieber’s manhood, his terrible musicality, and anything else I could jadedly throw out at him. But, the sad truth is, there are one or two redeeming qualities to the album and in an effort to be honest, I’ll share them with you.
His title track, “Under the Mistletoe” actually fits his voice; it’s somewhat catchy, mellow, and not that bad to listen to. However, I did feel like he was trying to be Bruno Mars, and that attempt didn’t sit that well with me, because amateurs imitate and professionals should innovate. He sounds the most mature vocally on the title track, and I think it’s most likely because the Canadian group The Messengers, known for their intricate style, helped produce this track.
Fa La La
Secondly, the tune, “Fa La La”, was actually a significant surprise for me, not because of Justin Bieber’s contribution, but because Boyz-II-Men made a guest appearance. Their vocal talent helped the song out tremendously and I daresay I even enjoyed the song to a certain extent. On the other hand, however, and perhaps condemningly, Boyz-II-Men’s performance greatly outshines Justin Bieber in comparison.
Sadly, after “Mistletoe” and “Fa la la” which at least had some redeeming qualities, the album made a desecration of the entire Christmas tradition. I’ve always loved the song “Drummer Boy”, but Bieber made it a terrible song by rapping after every verse with Busta Rhymes after some terrible auto-tuned T-Pain-like vocals. This song is exactly what I feared I would hear on the album. “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” also delivers the same sentiment along with Mariah Carey singing on the terrible semi-flirty rendition of “All I Want for Christmas is You.”
All in all, this album was the disappointment I expected it to be, but there were a couple gems I could muster through. Christmas albums that are good survive decades and are passed down to children and children’s children. This album assuredly won’t be passed down to another generation, or at least, for the love of God, I hope not.
Verdict: 1 out of 5