Will The Beliebers Be Feeling 'Changes'? We Take You Through Bieber's New LP Track By Track

15 February 2020 | 1:52 pm | Cyclone Wehner

"'Changes' is a perplexing career manoeuvre for Bieber, who is as much a brand as an artist."

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The Canadian pop phenom Justin Bieber has resurfaced with Changes, his long-awaited follow-up to 2015's Purpose. A great deal has happened to the former child prodigy in that time. In 2018, Bieber wed model Hailey Baldwin, daughter of the actor Stephen. He also addressed his mental and physical welfare, being diagnosed with Lyme disease. Changes chronicles Bieber's personal evolution, maturation and relationship. Many of the songs are about Hailey, making Changes an apt St Valentine's Day release. 

It's wild to realise that 2019 marked the 10th anniversary of Bieber's premiere EP, My World, and Biebermania. As part of his Changes promotional campaign, the singer shared a candid 'event' docuseries, Justin Bieber: Seasons, in partnership with YouTube Originals. Sanguinely, the 25-year-old will embark on a North American album tour in May.

Bieber has always been associated with R&B. Indeed, the YouTube discovery was mentored by Usher, his RBMG (Raymond Braun Media Group) label boss. My World had a writing credit from the future avant 'n' B auteur Frank Ocean. The Biebs subsequently worked with Tricky Stewart and The-Dream on his first ubiquitous hit, Baby, featuring Ludacris. In 2013 he issued a series of digital singles culminating in the collection Journals, then his most authentic R&B endeavour.

Still deemed a teen idol, Bieber assumed a new urban cred when in 2015 he teamed with Jack Ü, aka Skrillex and Diplo, for the banger Where Are Ü Now – which won a Grammy for Best Dance Recording. Encouraged, he reinvented himself as a post-EDM act with Purpose, embracing the nebulous trop-house and trap. The narrative of Purpose was redemption, Bieber atoning for his widely publicised bad boy antics – and legal woes – and apologising to his young love, Selena Gomez, for drama. Purpose was nominated for Album of The Year. Bieber paved the way for Ariana Grande, similarly musically fluid. 

Since Purpose, Bieber has been lowkey, aside from the occasional viral collab (including a random appearance on that remix of Billie Eilish's bad guy). Nonetheless, he did cut 2017's festive non-album single Friends with BloodPop. For Changes, Bieber has gone back to his roots, heralding himself as "R&Bieber". He favours sleek, contemporary electro sounds, with some '90s throwbacks. And Bieber's fifth outing showcases his soulful, smooth vocal delivery. Above all, the mood is sensual rather than sexual, befitting a Hillsong Church member. In the studio, Bieber eschews buzz producers, instead bunkering down with Jason "Poo Bear" Boyd, who was involved in Journals, and his crew. Bieber is a generational star. But will the Beliebers be feeling Changes?

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All Around Me

All Around Me is not the bombastic album opener expected from an artist of Bieber's status who once had his own "swagger coach". It's atmospheric, summery and ultra-mellow pop'n'B. Bieber sings about finding salvation in love – and learning to be less self-absorbed: "Never thought I could ever be loyal/To someone other than myself." As with much of Changes, All Around Me was produced by Bieber's longtime cohort Jason "Poo Bear" Boyd. The track is alluring yet oddly sequenced on an album with no club bangers. But, then, Changes was possibly conceived for honeymooning in tropical climes (it fades out with what sounds like an infant's cooing). And Changes is Bieber's most personal, and intimate, album – and era. He's really blissed out.


Following All Around Me, Habitual is subliminal, Drake-ian R&B with sultry vocals, electronic instrumentation that undulates like waves, and a groove. It sets a mood, and sounds unreal streamed on headphones, but isn't memorable.

Come Around Me

Come Around Me continues in the same spacey alt-R&B direction – at times resembling a deep house track playing in an empty bar. The prominent piano at the end ushers in welcome symphonic drama. Come Around Me has input from The Audibles, the Las Vegas duo also working on Journals. It is the LP's first notable cut. But how will the Changes material go down when Bieber performs in arenas?

Intentions (featuring Quavo)

The album's second single, Intentions harks back to Bieber's trop house phase, circa What Do You Mean? – and it's hooky. Yet, overall, as a modish love song, the vibe is slinkier. Bieber sings about Hailey while Migos' Quavo extols his girlfriend Saweetie. 


The lead single from Changes, Yummy was polarising on release in January because of its corny lyrics about The Biebs' newlywed sex life (weirdly, it was marketed via TikTok). Bieber gush-sings, "You got that yummy-yum" over and over. Musically, it's solid enough. The catchy track contemporises '90s R&B with trap beats. Though a hit, it won't go down as a Bieber classic.


Available is about the early stages of a romance. Bieber has shed the toxic masculinity that encroached on Purpose. In some ways, Available conveys a message of consent, even as Bieber notes his neediness. The song has airy synths, while Bieber's voice is supple as he flexes his falsetto.

Forever (featuring Post Malone and Clever)

Bieber blessed Post Malone's single Deja Vu, trap flirting with bossa nova, from his 2016 debut Stoney. The two reconnect here, bringing in Clever – a rising Alabama rapper co-signed by the late Juice WRLD. Forever is a trap track that, vocal performances aside, never really goes anywhere. Deja Vu II, it isn't.

Running Over (featuring Lil Dicky)

Changes' most unpredictable guest is comedy rapper Lil Dicky (Bieber contributed to his environmentally-themed single Earth). Running Over has oscillating, if hectic, synths layered over a cloud rap beat. It could be Four Tet producing Khalid. Unfortunately, it's too repetitive. Mind, that does distract from Dicky's rap (sample lines: "I got all up on your IG and was scrollin' down for hours/I got back to 2015 and you started lookin' young so I stopped").

Take It Out On Me

The bassy Take It Out On Me is among the strongest cuts on Changes, sampling dvsn's 2015 single Too Deep – dsvn being producer Nineteen85's studio project, on Drake's OVO Sound roster. (Too Deep itself borrows from Ginuwine's 1999 bop So Anxious with Timbaland.) Bieber's vocal performance is particularly expressive. Take It Out On Me alludes to sexual healing. Bieber sings figuratively, "I'll be your punching bag, hit me with all of your might." The Changes song to add to personal playlists.

Second Emotion (featuring Travis Scott)

Bieber has history with Travis Scott. He was an OMG feature alongside Young Thug on Scott's Maria I'm Drunk off Rodeo. La Flame then graced the trap-pop No Sense off Purpose. Second Emotion, with delicate synths rolling over trap beats, is another standout on Changes, capturing the elation of reciprocated desire. Scott's presence alone means there's a melody. This is the song to bump in the ride.

Get Me (featuring Kehlani)

Get Me was issued as the first promo single from Changes, but it's cooler than Yummy. Bieber duets with Kehlani on a '90s R&B track helmed by Boi-1da in his sole contribution.


Bieber switches up the album's direction with ETA, defined by bluesy guitar licks. His vocals carry the song. Weirdly, it evokes the old, pre-dancehall Ed Sheeran. 


Bieber has previously released alternative acoustic versions of his songs. The Changes title-track is a tuneful acoustic guitar number redolent of Babyface's '90s balladry, though more singer/songwriter. Bieber reflects on his personal growth – and his faith. It closes with his spoken word: "People change, circumstances change/But God always remains the same."


Confirmation is Bieber at his quietest. Initially, the song seems undeveloped, even superfluous – but it sneaks up. Bieber sings of escaping the celebrity rat race with his love.

That's What Love Is

Bieber returns to acoustica for the spare That's What Love Is. Some of the lyrics are derivative. But Bieber identifies the vulnerability within sentimentality, crooning, "My self-esteem gets low/You lift it right up through the ceiling."

At Least For Now

Bieber is still lost in love on Changes' last track proper. At Least For Now is a trippy piano ballad – with near-yodelling. The title is ambiguous, and Bieber expresses self-doubt, but ultimately he wants to simply live in the moment. The lyrics feel personal. He begins, "I'm concerned when you look at my face/You're excited for no reason." It's the kind of song Rex Orange County would release – a good thing.

Yummy (Summer Walker remix)

Yummy is slightly more palatable with the addition of Atlanta's hot newcomer Summer Walker, who, like Kehlani, specialises in '90s R&B.


Changes is a perplexing career manoeuvre for Bieber, who is as much a brand as an artist. In contrast to Purpose, there are no transparent hits here. The Changes title is ironic, too, since, macro musical departure aside, it actually offers less variation than Bieber's past projects, sonically or tempo-wise. At points, he's apparently retreating from commercial dictates. As for the 2020 incarnation of R&Bieber? Changes isn't Bieber's FutureSex/LoveSounds. In fact, as an R&B-leaning pop star, ZAYN is more adventurous. Bieber might have recorded with imaginative producers. Even the guest curation is obvious. However, Bieber is compelling when he personalises his songs, transcending cliché. That said, like Chance The Rapper's The Big Day, Changes could inspire "I love my wife" parodies and memes.