Bieber celebrates his 23rd birthday today, March 1st and while we can talk about all of his shenanigans, I rather be positive and think of his best work. And while his last album “Purpose” was nominated for Album of The Year and this year’s Grammy, I actually think his best work is the unsung hero, “Journals.”
Many people don’t even remember this album. It is more or less a compilation of singles that he released at the end of 2013 on “Music Mondays” for ten weeks in head of the release of his film “Believe” on iTunes each week, with a few extra songs. The songs didn’t sound like any of his other pop heavy stuff that he released before with “My World” and “Believe.” It was R&B influenced, moody and probably his most personal album to date. Fresh off the break up with Selena Gomez, Justin moaned about heartbreak and regret over beat reminiscent of R&B slow jams. He wasn’t on the 2015 mindset of “Love Yourself,” he wanted Selena back and made it really clear on songs like “All That Matter To Me.”
While his sound was completely different, he did include his obligatory rap features, however, even these had a different approach. On his song “Confident” featured Chance The Rapper. Keep in mind this was 2013, the same year he started to gain recognition with his mix tape “Acid Rap” but was no where near the mainstream success that he would have years later. Bieber showing that he had his ear to the streets edged him up a bit more.
His record company did not like the new sound, and plans for a physical release of the music was scratched. The album was only available digitally until it was released on vinyl in 2016.
Despite negative opinions, “Journals” was a turning point in Bieber’s career. He eventually experimented with other type of music, which I think makes “Purpose” his most diverse musical project. To me, “Journals” is his strongest, most intimate work.