You have to hand it to Justin Bieber. For all the flak he’s taken in recent years for his boorish behavior, he’s proven to be resilient in terms of reshaping his image.
At one point, his parade of well-publicized escapades placed him directly on a path of becoming a pariah in the pop world, from the alleged vandalism to his neighbor’s house, to being picked up by police in Miami on suspicion of driving under the influence, to urinating in public, to the brazen attitude he displayed during a taped deposition.
Rather than realizing that fate, however, he reversed course in his personal life, which has helped him gradually overcome the perception of him being another pampered pop star with a sense of entitlement. Shifting the focus back onto his music, the songs are what people are talking about now instead of being annoyed by his assorted antics.
To that end, Bieber has “Where Are Ü Now,” his credibility-enhancing collaboration with Skrillex and Diplo, to mostly thank for that. The song, which first dropped in February and really caught fire by mid-summer, essentially recontextualized Bieber, helping move him further away from the bubblegum pop image that shadowed him from the early part of his career.
In a recent Radio 1 Breakfast Show interview, Bieber astutely noted how his own trajectory seems to mirror that of Justin Timberlake, particularly how he went from being in a boy band and making music meant for teens to subsequently carving out a successful solo career by putting out more mature material like “Sexy Back.”
While such an observation might have seemed lofty a few years back, the response to “Where Are Ü Now” makes it seem less so these days. Likewise, with “What Do You Mean,” the tune that followed toward the end of the summer, and “Sorry,” which he just released, Bieber’s built up some momentum that should carry over when “Purpose,” his new album is released on Friday, Nov. 13.
All three of those three tunes are slated to appear on “Purpose,” which Bieber reportedly worked on with Skrillex and Diplo, obviously, plus Kanye West, Ed Sheeran and Benny Blanco. Yesterday, Bieber revealed the complete 18-song tracklist for the album, which features cameos by Big Sean, Travis Scott, Halsey and Nas. On Instagram and Twitter, Bieber shared photos of street art painted by an array of artists, including the famed Mr. Cartoon from Los Angeles, with each piece bearing the titles of tracks. Page down for the full song sequence.
01. Mark My Words
02. I’ll Show You
03. What Do You Mean
05. Love Yourself
07. No Pressure feat. Big Sean
08. No Sense feat. Travis Scott
09. The Feeling feat. Halsey
10. Life Is Worth Living
11. Where Are Ü Now feat. Skrillex & Diplo
14. I Been You
15. Get Used to Me
16. We Are feat Nas
18. All In It