Four months ago a photo of Justin Bieber with super-beardy, super-producer, Rick Rubin, put the world on notice that the singer isn’t playing about when it comes to his in-progress, new album. That message was reinforced at the end of March when the Biebs revealed he has enlisted Kanye West as a co-producer.
On March 29, EDM titan Skrillex closed a blistering headline set at the Ultra Music Festival in Miami with Jack Ü partner Diplo, and Bieber. With a little help from Diddy, the trio thrilled a euphoric crowd with a vibey performance of their hit “Where Are Ü Now.”
Now it’s not just Beliebers who are excited about the singer’s fourth creative outing. Media and industry anticipation for what emerges from the Bieber-Rubin-West trinity and Jack Ü sessions is at an all-time high. Because everyone knows this is the Biebs’ most important album, both musically and economically.
Does Bieber have something to say worth hearing? Will the public and free downloading-loving fans buy his new music? Can the singer re-ascend to the force he was in his 2010-12 heyday? Does he even want to? Those are the questions. The answer will come when his album drops.
Bieber’s re-emergence kicked off with a Calvin Klein campaign in January, appearances on Ellen, heartfelt apologies, magazine covers and interviews, his Comedy Central roast that exploded on social media, a headline summer booking at England’s Fusion Festival, Wango Tango, and recent guest spots at high profile music shows.
So what can Justin Bieber fans expect from his new album? Here’s 8 pointers:
1: Expect EDM. Hopefully more of the shimmering gorgeousness that is “Where Are Ü Now”
The day after Ultra, amid the buzz and the success of the first performance of “Where Are Ü Now,” Jack Ü and Bieber dropped by Miami radio stations Power 96 and Y100. The trio revealed they will be working on the Canadian’s new album.
At Power 96, Bieber said, “Yeah, I think me and these guys are going to collaborate on my next album and do something really special. Really world-changing.”
2: That said, it’s not going to be an EDM-fest
During a recent interview with On Air With Ryan Seacrest, Bieber said his new album will feature “snippets of that type of music [EDM],” but will mostly “be really musical” with “a lot of real instrumentation.”
3: Selena Gomez revisited
In that same interview, Bieber revealed his former girlfriend is an inspiration for a lot of his new music. Which stands to reason. Even though the heartthrob delved into their romance on his 2013 Journals collection, Jelena reunited many times throughout 2014 before it all went south somewhere between St. Maarten and Paris.
There won’t be a “direct response” to the Latina’s heartbreak song “The Heart Wants What It Wants.” However, Bieber did tell Seacrest, “I think a lot of my inspiration comes from her [Selena Gomez].”
Biebs continued, “It was a long relationship and a relationship that created heartbreak and created happiness, and a lot of different emotions that I wanted to write about, so there’s a lot of that on this album.”
4: Kanye West is pushy, in a good way.
Asked by Seacrest what the rapper-designer brings to the table, Bieber’s answer seems to reveal why he sought out West’s expertise.
“I’ve been in the studio with him for the past month or so,” Bieber revealed. “I think that he just pushes you. He definitely wants it to be my way and my direction and he doesn’t want to steal what I want… That’s why artists love to go to him, because he pulls something out of you that other people don’t.”
5: Practice patience. Biebervelli isn’t in a hurry to unleash the magic
With a lot to prove, apologies now (fingers crossed) over with, and the talent to deliver the goods, there’s no denying the intensity with which Bieber is approaching his already iconic (on paper) new album.
“I’m not in a rush,” was the heartthrob’s reply to Searest’s query about a release date, then adding, “I just want to create the best piece of art that I can create. Something that’s really near and dear to my heart.”
Elaborating, Bieber explains, “I know that there’s a lot of stuff that I’ve been going through over the last few years. I just really want to bleed it on this record.”
6: It will be emotional
Obviously, Bieber has had an eventful past two years. But behind the headlines, it seems something deeper was going on for the singer internally. And we’re going to hear about it on his album.
To Seacrest, the Biebs declared, “I want people to know that I’m not playing around. I’m not doing a record that is cookie cutter, or doing something that I think people want to hear.”
“I want to do something that I know that I can feel, and people are going to feel it through my music,” he stressed, adding, “I’m pretty silent about what I’ve been going through and just growing up in this life is hard, so I want to translate that.”
In a profile with USA Today, Bieber said his album is “About growing, being in touch with yourself. What can I say, it’s life experiences, and knowing that you can and get back up and keep going.”
7: Manager Scooter Braun thinks people will need to sit down after hearing Bieber’s album — or shake a pom-pom
Speaking to Complex magazine last year, Braun talked about Bieber’s continuing personal transformation and shared his thoughts about the music to come.
“He’s in such an incredible place right now, and he’s excited to share where he is with the world next year,” Braun said. “It will shock some people and make others really happy.”
He went on to say Justin is now ready to “be the man people want him to be,” adding that his new music will reveal a newfound “openness about what he’s learned in the last year.”
8: It’s intriguing not to know everything about an album before it drops
Journals aside, Bieber’s new album will be his first in the three years since 2012’s Believe. In the interim, the singer hit the studio with a roll call of artists who may appear on his new joint. Namely: Chris Brown, Tyga, T-Pain, Ariana Grande, Kid Cudi, and more. Honestly? We’re hoping Drake pops up, but we’re glad we don’t know. Surprise is good.
For some artists, it is pressure that provides the fuel to create something groundbreaking. Now, at last, lucidly opening up about the warping effects of fame — and the rest, on a 12-year-old growing up inside the seductive, dream factory of teenage idolhood, an older and wiser Justin Bieber is gearing up to deliver the album of his life. That sound? A music icon. Returning.
Working on music
— Justin Bieber (@justinbieber) April 8, 2015
[Images via Getty Images]