Last week, Justin Bieber released his sophomore LP, Believe, and we'd be lying to say some of us at FADER didn't care, at least a little. (This roundup of the album's best songs is our thirty-fifth post tagged with his name.) If you're curious but not quite ready to brave the deluxe edition’s seventeen tracks, we've compiled four noteworthy picks, a shorthand guide to conversation-piece pop.
Justin Bieber f. Drake, "Right Here"
When Bieber hits the low notes on "Right Here," especially at 28 seconds, it's undeniably Drake-inspired, which takes a lot of guts considering the real Drake is on the track. (For another prolonged impression, complete with 40-style filtered toms, check the "Marvins Room"-lite of "Love Me Like You Do"). Produced by Hit-Boy ("Niggas in Paris"), "Right Here" is the only hip-hop song of the album's four with actual hip-hop artists as guests, and it's the best. DC
Justin Bieber, "Thought of You" (Prod. by Ariel Rechtshaid and Diplo)
"Thought of You" is Believe’s big, wall-of-lightbulbs-bursting moment. It pulses with arena-sized energy, pings of high synth bouncing off big stabs of bass. On top, Bieber's vocal is impossibly bright. In the second verse, I did but I don't know how tumbles out of him like a single word, and "Pon de Floor"-style drums march towards the chorus, with Rechtshaid and Diplo changing the rhythm each time it comes around. First, it's compact and explosive, then it's stripped away and completely replaced with sparse, glimmering keys and finally, as if autographing the track at the last-possble moment, Diplo mixes in pitched-up Yeahs! and closes the the track with a final siren scream. NZ
Justin Bieber, "Maria"
Last November, 20-year-old Mariah Yeater filed a lawsuit claiming that she got pregnant after taking Justin Bieber's virginity, their encounter in a bathroom backstage after a Bieber show allegedly lasting just 30 seconds. Bieber denied the claims, Beliebers threatened to kill Yeater and the suit was quickly dismissed. The incident, Bieber's first true scandal, lives on in the thinly-disguised diss "Maria." Over a jerky, buoyant beat by Rodney "Darkchild" Jerkins, Bieber gets raw: She's talkin it/ She needs to quit/ But I never hit it/ I know she's not mine. Hollering She's not my girl! in homage to Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean," he plays the role of tightly wound, manic megastar more convincingly than the whispering heartthrob found on Believe’s minimal first single, "Boyfriend." NZ
Justin Bieber, "Catching Feelings"
With its coffee-house guitar and slow-nod shakers, "Catching Feelings" is Bieber at his most adult contemporary, the type of song you'd imagine him imagining is timeless. If it seems like the bridge between Believe and his sincere Christmas album, Under the Mistletoe, that's largely because it borrows a chord progression and vocal riff from its opening track, "Only Thing I Ever Get for Christmas," albeit with slightly more gravelly vocals. A video of the studio recording featuring Bieber's mother soulfully nodding with her eyes closed and three men swaying with arms over each other's shoulders, keeping Bieber's earnest quotient high. DC