Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
June 25, 2021

In Changes, Justin Bieber shows that he’s grown

By KAYLEE ZOU | February 20, 2020

When Justin Bieber dropped the song “Yummy” as his lead single from his fifth studio album, Changes, there was much dispute between me and my friends. 

For one of my friends (who wishes to remain unnamed in case her opinion changes later), who had watched the trailers to Bieber’s documentary series, Justin Bieber: Seasons, “Yummy” immediately felt insulting in the face of Bieber’s claim that his new goal was to make deeper, more meaningful music. 

“It is obvious he has matured as a person, but his music unfortunately lacks depth and is unable to communicate his newfound insights on his own journey but rather sticks to overused themes of sex,” she said. “Seeing his previous albums and this one, one would not know he himself had gone through any changes, it’s the next in line in a series of albums that are catchy but just not that deep.”

On the other hand, my roommate and I had been playing “Yummy” and “Intentions” on loop in our apartment. 

“‘Yummy’ is a bop!” my roommate exclaims to anyone who asks. “I’ve been a JB fan for a while so I was really excited when ‘Yummy’ first came out. I really loved the music video too! It was so fun and the dancing specifically was pretty cool.”

Meanwhile, another friend summarized succinctly: “Yummy IS yummy.”

My personal take on this first single from Changes is that a song does not need to be overtly about growth and change to demonstrate that the artist has grown and changed, but that music can be light-hearted and simple in meaning and still represent and emit joy, which “Yummy” does. 

I found it inspiring that Bieber took a risk by making his single such an easy listen, while creating the respective music video, an aesthetically pleasing joke. 

He didn’t succumb to the idea that all of his new music has to be deep and profound for him to have grown into a deep and profound person. 

Do I really think Justin Bieber is a mature and thoughtful adult now? 

It’s hard for me to say, but at least it has been a goal of his for some time now, which he makes clear in his documentary series. 

For many of us college-aged kids, Justin Bieber has incredible nostalgic value. He rose to fame around the time we were finishing up elementary school and starting middle school. 

The general public went through several waves of ups and downs towards its feelings about Bieber, as did I personally. In sixth grade, during a field trip, my entire class simultaneously started singing Bieber’s “Baby,” except for a select few haters, including myself. 

Bieber even said it himself on James Corden’s popular series Carpool Karaoke (about “Baby”): “It’s got the most dislikes on the internet.”

Then, just a few years later, I begged my parents to let me go to my first concert ever, Justin Bieber’s Believe show at the Verizon Center (now the Capital One Arena) in Washington, D.C. 

Almost always the center of controversy, with the promotion of this new album, Bieber once again has been unable to shy away from criticism. As part of advertising “Yummy,” he posted pictures of babies on his Instagram with “#yummy” as the caption, which many found rather disturbing, given the sexual nature of the song. 

In summary of the album, all of the songs on Changes, which was fittingly dropped on this Valentine’s Day, are romantic and pretty much sexual in nature. Upon repeat, the songs may start to sound all the same. Vocally, however, each is consistently smooth and satisfying, as Bieber’s voice always is. 

Through his documentary series, we get to see the behind the scenes process and work that Bieber put in to create this album and learn more about him as a human being. 

He discusses his struggles with fame, addiction and mental health issues. 

He also speaks passionately about his love for his wife, Hailey Bieber, and how her support aided him in getting back into the studio. 

The series additionally sheds light on the intense discipline it takes for artists to produce music. 

Not only did Bieber need to start writing and singing again, he also paired working on this project with other important life processes, such as going to the gym again and living a strict and productive daily routine. 

Perhaps Justin Bieber is still not everyone’s cup of tea, but he has certainly proved himself to be a human with emotional complexity, difficult struggles and relatable concerns, which most people in the world would never have to go out of their way to claim for others to know that about them. 

The changes that Bieber demonstrates in his new album include his new marital status and dedication to his wife, his return to music post-hiatus and his deep desire to be a changed man. 

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