10 deep cuts for new Justin Bieber fans
First published in December 2015
Justin Bieber kicks off his Purpose tour in Perth tonight. And if you jumped on the Bieber bandwagon around the time of his last proper tour in 2013, you might have missed some epic tracks from his earlier albums – but that’s OK. Now’s your chance to dive into some deeper cuts from the Bieber canon chosen by proud long-time fan DAVID JAMES YOUNG.
1. ‘Take You’ (2012)
Signs that JB had a banger in him the size of ‘What Do You Mean?’ can be traced back as far as this album cut from Believe, which was inexplicably not a single. It’s got the perfect build-up, a lush chorus and a solid post-puberty vocal performance. It’s not quite there – the verse production is a little too Timberlake; the bridge a little too bro-step – but it’s a foot-shuffle in the right direction.
2. ‘PYD’ (feat. R. Kelly) (2013)
This is a weird one, even by Bieber’s standards. It’s his longest song ever at five-plus minutes, by far his most minimal beat (provided by Las Vegas duo The Audibles) and one of his most explicitly sexual songs. It shouldn’t stick, but ‘PYD’ proved to be a worthwhile experiment – it’s light as a cloud and as smooth as silk, allowing for Bieb’s ever-developing croon to glide atop of it. Furthermore, regardless of what you think of R. Kelly, he fits the song to a T. The harmonies these two get down on are unbelievable.
3. ‘Runaway Love’ (Remix feat. Kanye West and Raekwon) (2010)
Two hip-hop heavyweights get in on a grimy, choppy remix of a My World track that’s worth a bump or two itself. Who knows who decided to throw these three into the mix – it’s the ultimate game of “One of these things is not like the others” – but the verses are solid (and clean for the kids, too!) and the use of Bieber as a hook rather than a lead is a clever move.
4. ‘Thought of You’ (2012)
‘Where Are Ü Now’ was not the first time Bieber had enlisted Diplo – in yet another case of one of Believe‘s best tracks not being a single, this head-voice twirl through young love and big beats marked the first time the two had teamed up. Honestly, if either this or ‘Take You’ had been released instead of ‘Boyfriend’, there’s no way we’d be talking about a Bieber renaissance now. We’d have gotten it over in 2012.
5. ‘Confident’ (feat. Chance the Rapper) (2013)
Journals – the compilation album that chronicled the Music Mondays experiment – fell in the forest two years ago and no-one was around to hear it. With its flurry of hi-hat stabs and swinging beat, ‘Confident’ is well worth investigating if you’re wondering if JB’s recent successes came out of nowhere. Songs like this strongly suggest otherwise.
6. ‘Right Here’ (feat. Drake) (2012)
They’re two of the biggest stars of the moment, but these world-conquering Canadians were also tag-teaming on a later promotional-single cut from Believe. With Hit Boy laying down a cruisy, shiny beat; both Biebs and Drizzy threw their proverbial jackets over their proverbial lover’s proverbial shoulders, assuring them that they weren’t going anywhere. Real smooth like.
7. ‘Love Me’ (2009)
We’re going all the way back for this Cardigans-sampling shuffle. It’s very early, so the voice may be a little grating, but it’s a total gem from his debut EP, My World, which also featured breakthrough smash ‘One Time’. The thwack of the snare and the layer of vocoder is total candy.
8. ‘She Don’t Like the Lights’ (2012)
A Believe bonus track builds up from a looped sample of a camera snap and tells the tale of a paparazzi-shy lover being shielded by Bieber. It’s a clever beat and catchy as all get out – this didn’t make the final cut but the thick cheese of the title track was somehow given the green light?
9. ‘Recovery’ (2013)
With The Audibles getting the beat just right once again, blending neckhair-lifting sub-bass with some chopped-and-screwed acoustic guitar, ‘Recovery’ was Bieber’s redemption song before ‘Sorry’ was even a twinkle in his eye. Think of it as an origin story, or even as an entrée.
10. “Bigger” (2009)
This is on here to close things out for both being a rosy-cheeked Usher/Timberlake pastiche, as well as its strangely-timely chorus; which reflects far more on 2015 JB than perhaps anyone could have anticipated: The haters, I swear/They look so small from up here/’Cause we’re bigger/The love’s bigger/I’m bigger/And we’re bigger