With the transition into the new decade, it seems as though the mainstream audience for pop music is growing more appreciative of vulnerability and intimacy in what they listen to. I would give credit to Camila Cabello and Harry Styles at the end of 2019 for leading the way in this movement, shifting the themes of their music to more personal subjects and experimenting with more unique instrumentals. Now, in 2020, Justin Bieber’s “Changes” leaps so far backward it seems as though it was produced by cavemen.
The overall composition of “Changes” makes me call into question if Def Jam Recordings has any sort of standards whatsoever for what they allow to be published. On multiple occasions, Bieber’s voice is suddenly cut off in the middle of a note, revealing where the editors switch to a different vocal take while editing the songs together. Accompanying this fault is the apparent fact that no effort was put into maintaining any sort of consistent rhyme or meter, some of the most basic elements of music that are necessary for giving any song a semblance of rhythm and organization.
“Changes” is also absent of any sense of depth. The lyrical content is so surface level that it sounds more like a parody of pop music than it does a fully produced LP. The overuse of repetition and the usage of “oh” and “woah” to finish out the meter instead of proper words is headache-inducing to the point I’d compare it to actual torture. Few of the songs even attempt to speak an actual message, and the ones that do are dragged down by the context. For example, in the song “Confirmation,” the overall theme is to take your time on things because you have your whole life ahead of you. A good piece of advice, if only contextually it wasn’t something Bieber was saying to his partner as what seems like his excuse for avoiding commitment. The choice of words and simplistic metaphors give the whole album the vibe that I’m listening to a highschool freshman reciting a piece they wrote in their Intro to Poetry class, rather than something written over the course of multiple years by a team of five-to-seven people.
Onto the instrumentals, for nearly every song the album recycles your typical trap beat, but places one different sound over it. Essentially, the backdrop for every song is just a snare drum and some purposeless synthetic noise. Some songs do diverge from this pattern however. These songs are clearly supposed to be the more “emotional” tracks comparatively. I imagine they thought putting the sound of an acoustic guitar or a few piano keys as the backdrop was the way to touch everybody’s hearts, but it’s not. Instead, it’s just basic.
If the team behind “Changes” actually attempted to write something meaningful, then I may have an actual reason to ever listen to it again. Instead, it’s obvious no one put forth any energy into this album’s production. In summation, this 17-track album, including the remix of the album’s lead single “Yummy,” is cheap, boring and meaningless. All together, it sounds like it was made by a group of men following a tutorial on how to make music they found on the back of a cereal box.