Def Jam Recordings and RBMG· February 14, 2020
Love him, hate him, or stopped paying attention to him years ago, there’s no denying the impact that Justin Bieber has had on music and the world of celebrity. He redefined what it meant to be famous in the 21st century, but inevitably fell from grace. Unfortunately for him, and everyone else, his return falls a bit flat.
Despite being Justin’s comeback to the public, Changes is actually an album entirely made for his wife, Hailey Baldwin, and the world wouldn’t have been missing a thing had he decided to only share it with her. It’s hard to say what it is exactly, but something just seems to be missing from this album. The production is nice, but repetitive. The songs are inspired, yet boring. The one constant is that his voice is still surprisingly solid, despite years of overuse and drug abuse.
One of the biggest problems with Changes is that, unless you’re madly in love with Hailey Baldwin, it’s hard to care about and connect with the music. Similarly to Chance the Rapper’s The Big Day, it’s hard to listen to this album without thinking “We get it: you’re married and in love, good for you.” At least Chance’s album was a celebration of his actual wedding and marriage, whereas Changes is basically an hour of Justin bragging about ending his celibacy and having lots of sex with his wife. Perhaps that’s why this album is so underwhelming, because most of us couldn’t care less about Justin Bieber’s sex life.
Despite the overall mediocrity of Changes, there are a few songs that make it almost worth listening to. “That’s What Love Is” is a sweet and simple guitar-based track about (surprise, surprise) love that typically wouldn’t stand out, but because it’s one of the only songs where Justin isn’t desperately seeking acceptance from the hip-hop/R&B community it actually ends up being a nice refresher. Nevertheless, it’s still in the same boat as all the other songs—monotonous and largely lacking in substance.
Fortunately for him, at this point in his career the quality of the music isn’t actually that important. He’s achieved a level of celebrity that allows him the luxury to release an album full of skip songs, which is what Changes is. As individual tracks, these songs are just fine. They’re easy to listen to and even enjoyable, but it’s nowhere close to the level of talent that should be coming from someone with five albums. Despite this, he’s got some of the most loyal followers the music industry has ever seen, and they’ll happily take whatever he feels like giving them.