This week, pop superstar/heartthrob Justin Bieber released Believe Acoustic, containing acoustic versions of select hits from his 2012 album Believe. By “acoustic,” we mean guitar and vocals. That’s pretty much it, except for a piano on the bonus track.
Yeah, here’s an idea. Let’s take an already hugely successful album, create stripped-down versions of some of the songs, and RE-release it to milk every last dime we can out of it.
Oh…but wait a minute…this stuff is actually pretty good…
Really good, actually.
Here’s the thing about so much modern pop: it gets so overproduced that you often can’t hear the true talent of the artist behind it. This allows some artists who aren’t really all that talented to hide behind the façade—but for those who do have the talent, it masks their abilities.
That, to me, is the beauty behind Believe Acoustic: you pull back all the production noise, guest rappers and slick dance beats, and you can actually hear what Justin Bieber really sounds like. As it happens, underneath all that spit and polish, he really is a talented kid, with flawless vocal chops and a sense of expression well beyond his years. Usher done found a good ‘un after all.
Also in defense of the record, it’s not just a re-make album. In addition to acoustic versions of tunes like “Boyfriend,” “As Long As You Love Me,” and “She Don’t Like the Lights,” Bieber includes three new tunes (also performed in stripped-down mode): “Yellow Raincoat,” “I Would,” and a piano-driven tune about Bieber’s breakup with Selena Gomez, “Nothing Like Us,”—a bonus tracks that proves to be one of the album’s highlights. There is also a live acoustic version of “Fall” thrown in for good measure. While virtually all of these tracks are ear candy, one of the best revelations is how well “Beauty and a Beat” translates to an acoustic, guitar-driven song. You won’t even miss Nicki Minaj. Promise.
For those who have long been doubters of Justin Bieber’s longevity as an artist, or his ability to transition from a teen heartthrob to an, um, adult heartthrob—I think part of the problem was that the pop production was masking his true abilities just a little bit. Not that he should change genres, or anything, just saying we couldn’t always hear the raw talent behind the pretty face. This acoustic record, I believe, will settle the question once and for all for a lot of doubters: Bieber definitely has the talent to be a superstar. Some might even rightfully feel (as I alluded to in such a tongue-in-cheek manner earlier) that Believe Acoustic is a marketing ploy to generate more sales out of these tunes. But I happen to think it’s much more than that—I think this record might just prove to be the smartest move of Justin Bieber’s career.