By Korea Herald
  • Published : Jun 22, 2012 - 19:59
  • Updated : Jun 22, 2012 - 19:59
Justin Bieber’s new album impresses

Justin Bieber


(Island Def Jam)

Because Justin Bieber is Justin Bieber -- a Canadian teen singer heartthrob -- it’s hard to take his music seriously. Everything about him screams Tiger Beat, from the endless screeching girls to his relationship with fellow teen sensation Selena Gomez.

And then there’s the song that has defined him most -- “Baby,” perhaps the most saccharine, bubble-gum song recorded in quite some time.

It’s not surprising that few have taken Bieber the artist seriously. But his new CD will help change that.

“Believe,” his third full-length album, is a 13-track set that shows that Bieber, now 18, is growing as a musician, and the result is enjoyable.

The album’s first single, “Boyfriend,” is a great pop song that sounds like Justin Timberlake’s falsetto mashed up with the Ying Yang Twins’ “The Whisper Song.” It’s Bieber’s biggest hit to date.

The rest of the album also has future hits: “All Around the World” (with Ludacris) is upbeat, as is the futuristic, Big Sean-assisted “As Long As You Love Me,” which sounds like it could have been produced by Skrillex and David Guetta.

Bieber co-wrote all but one song on the album, working with producers like The Messengers, Rodney Jerkins, Hit-Boy, Diplo, Max Martin, Bei Maejor and others.

His best collaboration is with Drake on “Right Here,” a 1990s sounding-R&B jam that proves the singer is best on smoother tunes, not Euro-flavored ones. “Catching Feelings,” a soft, pop groove co-written by Babyface, is arguably the best track, showcasing Bieber’s versatility and hopefully the future artistic heft to come from the singer. It also highlights Bieber’s voice, which is good and improving, though recent live performances of “Boyfriend” haven’t been that strong.

“Believe” does have some missteps: “Thought of You” is weak and the Nicki Minaj-featured “Beauty and a Beat” is a wasted collaboration.

While Bieber channels Timberlake at times, he also has moments inspired by his idol, Michael Jackson. Bieber samples Jackson’s “We Got a Good Thing Going” for the nicely done, R&B-tinged “Die In Your Arms,” and there’s also a bonus track “Maria,” a song about Mariah Yeater, the woman who falsely claimed Bieber fathered her child. The song recalls “Billie Jean,” and it’s clever and amusing.


Fiona Apple spins a yarn on new album

Fiona Apple

”The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than The Driver of The Screw And Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do“

(Epic Records)

After making a name for herself at 19 with her acclaimed debut “Tidal” in 1996, Fiona Apple slowed down and almost ground down to a halt. Now 34, she releases her fourth album after a seven-year break, and the title’s a mouthful: “The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than The Driver of The Screw And Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do.”

But the dense name is merely indicative of the richness of material on the album and the now 34-year-old’s fearlessness in taking her time to do the exact music she wants.

Stripped down to ten tracks and using instruments scarcely, “The Idler Wheel” presents the listener with a deceptive facade of frugality, when in fact, like with all of Apple’s work, it blooms into a rich tapestry of emotional stories. The singer pours herself vulnerable and raw into the music, particularly on tracks like “Every Single Night,” “Periphery” and “Anything We Want.” Apple’s remarkable voice exudes a mix of confidence and hurt, modulating itself perfectly to the atmosphere of each song.

Apart from intuitive use of non-instrumental sounds such as a typewriter (“Regret”), children’s voices on a playground (“Werewolf”) and birds flapping their wings (“Daredevil”), Apple brings to the table her impeccable lyric-writing skills and instinct for the most wonderful turn of phrase. After all, who else would put in the same song words like “orotund,” `’reticulate” and “valedictories” and get away with it? At the end of the album, you feel like you’ve been to wonderland.