It’s here. The new Justin Bieber album, Purpose, has entered our hearts. If you didn’t partake in the leak and are about to experience its alternatively solemn and tropical pleasures with virgin ears, here’s a fun way to warp your first spin: Play the last song on the standard edition—the title track—and then start the album from the beginning.
It’s not always clear whether Bieber is singing about a romantic partnership or his newfound faith, and it gets especially confusing if you play the last song, “Purpose,” which puts his Christianity front and center, first. So, moving directly from “Purpose” to the first track, “Mark My Words,” you arrive at: “Mark my words/Give you all I got/In every way I will/You’re the only reason why/I don’t wanna live a lie.” Wait, who is this person Justin wants to give his all to, who convinced him to stop living a lie? Like a hipster Angelano attending a super dope church for like-minded 20-somethings, let me throw my arm around your shoulders and through my mustache whisper in your ear: Jesus, bro.
From there, it’s like throwing a match into a bush covered in kerosene-soaked rags—all your previously held notions about Bieber’s recent music go up in flames as you clutch the sides of your face with your hands like you’re a human-shaped meme. (If I’m mixing up my figurative language, it’s only because Bieber taught me.) “Where Are Ü Now”? Really though, where is God in this complicated, messy world? “What Do You Mean?” Dog, what can we possibly understand of God’s plan given that we see through a glass, darkly? “You ain’t gotta answer none of my calls/I’m believing you’ll pick up one day,” Bieber sings on total slapper “No Problems,” and his patience is a measure of his maturity. God hotline blings for so many, and who is Bieber to assume that the call of one Canadian pop star should take priority over the cries of so many? Truly, he’s humbled himself before the wreckage of a life dismantled by egg throwing, bucket pissing, and R&B.
God hotline blings for so many, and who is Bieber to assume that the call of one Canadian pop star should take priority over the cries of so many?
Wait, you’re saying. You’ve listened to these songs the entire way through instead of just the snippets I’ve selected and you’ve watched the daytime television interviews. Yes, he told Ellen DeGeneres that a number of the songs on Purpose are about his terminated relationship with fellow pop star Selena Gomez. But have you read his Complex interview? He said, “It’s like a girlfriend. If I have an awesome, bomb girlfriend, I’m gonna wanna show her off and go around and tell people my girl is the shit. It’s like with God.” (Emphasis mine.)
He just Dan Brown’d the entire album for us; he has literally handed us the key to the Da Vinci Code for Purpose, and you’re still going to tell me this album is about human love and running around with girls, and not Jesus Christ? Nah.
So when Purpose moves a gazillion units, it’ll be the biggest stealth Christian pop album ever. Which, cool. Though I had a secular upbringing, I’ve listened to some Christian music in my time, albeit sometimes begrudgingly. “I listen to mewithoutYou for the similes” is something I said in my adult life, so I’m not a perfect man. (I’m actually an asshole for saying that.) I won’t judge Justin for wanting to show off his new girlfriend, Jesus, to the world.
But what I’d like to wonder aloud about is: Why is it that EDM Justin is good, penitent, freshly cleaned in the river of public opinion, Justin? And why is it that R&B Justin is bad, scary, irresponsible Justin? We like him hanging with Skrillex and Diplo, but not Darkchild and R. Kelly? Not to take a last minute detour into the serious for something that’s obviously a joke, but is America really that afraid of R&B? We should all pray on it.