Justin Bieber: Under The Mistletoe

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Posted November 12, 2011 by J Matthew Cobb in Reviews 1.0
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‘Dreaming of a Bieber Christmas’ comes with surprise guests and an alarming vocal change

The last person Justin Bieber wants to be buried under mistletoe with this Christmas is a starstruck fan hungry with a paternity test in hand. Luckily, the Bieb is joined by a diverse slate of pop royalty (Boyz II Men, Usher, The Band Perry) eager to join the teen-pop star on his first egg nog toast, Under The Mistletoe. It isn’t enough to cover up the obvious: Bieber’s timbre is sharply yanked down a few notches, with his kiddie vocal range now reduced to a Jesse McCartney. On the plus side, Bieber does a grand job in pulling in original tracks. Tweens hoping to push the Bieber craze onward into his adolescent years will enjoy the Jodeci bedroom swagger of “Christmas Eve,” the Bruno Mars-ness of “Mistletoe” and the country-pop of “Home This Christmas,” all decent originals. The R&B-injected “Fa La La” probably stands out the strongest due to Boyz II Men’s harmonic ad-libs. Some tracks are worth excavating for family fun time, like the Jackson 5 bubblegum pop reinvention of “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town, but Bieber makes a few careless mistakes that are almost too hard to swallow. An irritating shell of reggaeton spoils the potential of “Drummer Boy,” although Busta Rhymes shines on his cameo. In a ProTools age, it’s easy to patch a pre-recorded Mariah Carey on a Bieber vocal track, which explains the existence of a recycled “All I Want For Christmas.” But the most disappointing revelation aboard Under The Mistletoe falls on Bieber. With the jaw-dropping key change in place, he sounds less engaged and bored. Only on the bonus track “Pray,” where his voice sounds like remnants of better times, Bieber sounds like the pop monster he’s been made to be.

J MATTHEW COBB

  • Release Date: 1 November 2011
  • Label: Island
  • Producers: Kuk Harrell, C. “Tricky” Stewart, Sean K, Justin Bieber, Randy Jackson, James “Big Jim” Wright, Usher, The Messengers, Bernard Harvey, Josh Cross, Chris Brown, Jay Riehl, Antwan Thompson, Boogie Wizzard, Chris Brown
  • Spin This: “Fa La La,” “Mistletoe,” “Pray”

About the Author

J Matthew Cobb

Managing editor of HiFi Magazine


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