After a week of celebrating Justin Bieber, the pop superstar's Purpose album is finally here. We've been listening all day and have our initial thoughts: From the newfound respect for women to the standout feature, here are the five most important takeaways.
Since its release, lead single "What Do You Mean?" has sparked a conversation about consent, with some wondering whether he'd created an innocent or problematic anthem. But a deeper listening to Purpose makes a case for the former, as Biebs is paying more attention to his lady's feelings rather than telling her, "If I was your boyfriend, I'd never let you go," like he did in the past.
On second single "Sorry" he croons, "Not just trying to get you back on me / 'Cause I'm missing more than just your body." Plus, on the Big Sean-featuring "No Pressure" he sings, "You don't gotta answer none of my calls / I'm believing you'll pick up one day... You ain't gotta make your mind up right now / Right now, don't rush, no pressure."
The media has focused a lot on how Bieber seemingly can't get over ex-girlfriend Selena Gomez, but Purpose is actually filled with clever kiss-off tracks that make Bieber sound like a dude ready to move on with some real maturity.
He describes a vain-yet-insecure girl on "Love Yourself" ("'Cause if you like the way you look that much / Oh baby you should go and love yourself"), which is a positive take on realizing someone isn't going to dig you the way they do themselves. Then he details confusing lust with love on "The Feeling" ("You give to me / Everything, anything that I could dream / And at least that's what it seems... Am I in love with you or am I in love with the feeling?").
These are on-the-nose observations of real-life relationship struggles that makes Bieber much more relatable instead of the untouchable teen idol.
One of Purpose's standout tracks is "The Feeling," which features quickly rising alt-pop star Halsey. The "New Americana" singer contributes to the gorgeous chorus and adds vocal embellishments on the verses, but ultimately remains underutilized and, as a result, feels mysteriously absent on this melancholy duet.
It should only help the millions of curious of Beliebers to discover the badass singer on their own, but also pique the interest of critics and casual listeners. Halsey is going to win big with this.
One of the coolest aspects of Bieber's Jack Ü collaboration "Where Are Ü Now" is how the singer's vocals were reworked into an inescapable hook. Unless our ears are deceiving us, we think Bieber's croons have been interpolated all over this record—in fact, the record opener "Mark My Words" starts with some whiny Bieber vocals layered with different pitches. It's an interesting creative choice and feels like a new calling card for the singer.
Purpose's album cover is decorated with crosses, and the religious themes seep into the record, too. On "Life Is Worth Living," Bieber reconciles his past missteps ("People make mistakes, doesn't mean you have to give in" he sings on the chorus), which might seem like another planned move of his apology tour, but he adds an important twist by the final chorus: "People make mistakes / Only God can judge me / Life is worth living again."
Then on the title track, there are what sounds like voicemail messages of Bieber talking to someone (maybe himself?), giving a pep talk where he says:
"I don't know if this is wrong because someone else is telling me that it's wrong but I feel this so let me just like, try my best not to let this happen again. We weren't necessarily put in the best position to make the best decisions.
You can't be hard on yourself for these were the cards that you were given so you have to understand that these, like... that's not who you are. You're trying to be the best you can be but that's all you can do. If you don't give it all you got, you're only cheating yourself. Give it all you got, but if it ends up happening, it ends up happening.
That's what it's...that's what's happening with me. It's like God I'm giving it all I got, sometimes I'm weak and I'm gonna do it, and it's like I'm not giving myself grace, I'm just like understanding, that's just how it is."