My World 2.0 secures Justin Bieber's spot in the harmless teen idol lineup
My World 2.0 (Island)
Pop culture’s obsession with cute, clean-cut boys singing harmless pop songs goes back to the very beginnings of rock ’n’ roll. Elvis Presley was, well, dreamy before he got fat. The Beatles’ early catalogue set the stage for thousands of adorable mop-topped wannabes. The 1980s gave us the New Kids on the Block and Boyz II Men, while the 1990s had the Backstreet Boys and those ’N Sync dweebs. Now we have overnight musical sensation—and confoundingly popular Twitter trending topic—Justin Bieber.
Discovered on YouTube, the 16-year-old Canadian has a strong but not particularly unique voice. Its unremarkable nature helps to ensure that the songs on My World 2.0, his first full-length studio release and follow-up to his platinum-certified My World EP, are totally harmless. Sure, there are a few songs that deviate from the standard pop clichés but the offerings on My World 2.0 primarily modulate between glossy, synth-laden power ballads and cheerfully twee teen pop.
The album starts off with “Baby”, a cavity-enducing piece of pop fluff. Ludacris shows up to freestyle an inoffensively adorable verse, and is an inspired addition to a song that otherwise veers into the characterless territory of Owl City. Rapper-singer Sean Kingston gets pulled in for the similarly sugary “Eenie Meenie”, undoubtedly in an attempt by the record label to appeal to a more hip demographic than the Twihards who comprise the majority of Bieber’s fan base. The dance-floor–ready “Somebody to Love” has an ass-kicking beat, while the innocent sweetness of the R&B-fuelled “U Smile” would have easily secured it a place in the Jackson 5’s repertoire.
Bieber’s not making hard-hitting music, but neither is he singing about getting wasted, dancing on tables, or sexing anyone up. As a young role model—and future heartbreaker—the lack of sleaze is commendable. “Stuck in the Moment” captures the endearing naiveté of young love, comparing his intense feelings to idealized romantic pairings like as Romeo and Juliet. Who among us didn’t feel that way when we first fell in love, like how we were feeling was more serious and intense than anything anyone has ever felt? Sentiments like those just make you want to pinch his cheeks and go, “Awwwwwwwwwwww”.
My World 2.0 is surprisingly sweet and charming even if it’s only four-chord songs about young love, longing, and desire coated in a heavy gloss of overproduced synths and computer-generated beats. In fact, there isn’t a single song on this album that’s not about a girl. We’re betting this kid will turn into the next Michael Bublé: not a bad voice, puts on a good show, and has women panting after him wherever he goes. Now we’re just left to wonder what he’ll sound like when his voice drops.
Download This: “U Smile”
"U Smile" by Justin Bieber.