In his fifth studio album, pop-gigastar Justin Bieber’s “Changes” follows its title quite literally. In plain words from the very first song, Bieber sings about a changed man. On the opening track “All Around Me,” Bieber sings, Never thought I could ever be loyal / To someone other than myself / I never thought I could ever be a spoiler / Guess anything is possible with your help. While I’ve never been inside his head, it doesn’t take a genius to guess that his relationship and recent marriage to supermodel Hailey Baldwin brought a new side to the superstar we’ve known for so long. 

Ten years later, the same boy-wonder who brought us “Baby” and “Somebody to Love” is now singing of love and commitment of the deepest kind. Single listeners beware. 

Yet the Bieber we often know as immature and carefree appears throughout as well. The love he sings of could often be interpreted as toxic or desperate. His adoration of Baldwin is apparent and touching, but throughout the album his deep devotion sounds more like desperate infatuation; in “Available” he literally says, Don’t mean to sound desperate / But you made it like this and Are you available / Like I’m available? This Bieber sounds like he’s projecting his insecure love and placing some kind of fault on his partner. 

This semi-troubling pattern continues in other songs. The summary of “Take It Out On Me” is that Bieber doesn’t mind his partner coming home stressed because he heavily implies that stress leads elsewhere. You can take it out on me / You can take it out on me / I'll be your punching bag, hit me with all of your might; these lyrics don't exactly sound like the healthiest relationship. 

Immature lyrics aren’t the only factor that detract from Bieber’s thesis of maturation and devotion. What detracts the most is the track “Yummy” and all that has surrounded it. To start, the track is cheap and repetitive. Bieber says “yum” or “yummy,” already childish terms, a total of 55 times (I counted). It hardly blends with the slow, love tracks that surround it. 

Additionally, its release was followed by sketchy, and frankly desperate, methods to pull the mediocre track kicking and screaming to the top of the charts, which fits the mood of the rest of the album, I suppose. There are multiple videos posted from Bieber’s social media practically begging fans to repeatedly stream “Yummy.” According to reporting from Complex, he posted and then deleted a fan-made graphic detailing how to game the streaming system to propel “Yummy” to No. 1, including playing the song repeatedly as you sleep. 

It’s not to say there’s nothing good about Bieber’s album. “All Around Me,” “Habitual” and “Come Around Me” deliver catchy pacing and synthy sounds that begged repeating from me. Still, self-sabotage through questionable lyrics and corny over-promotion shot this album in the foot, leaving its prominence among his discography questionable.

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