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  • Muzik First

ARTIST OF THE MONTH: JUSTIN BIEBER

Canadian Youtube star Justin Bieber got his start by Usher beating the likes of Justin Timberlake and opened the doors for the young star. Usher fully intended for Bieber to become another iconic name for his generation. But with Bieber having grown so much since the release of his debut album, "My World 2.0", it seems appropriate to look back at the record that broke him as an international star when released on March 19, 2010. Bieber's backstory is well covered: arguably the biggest YouTube star of them all, the Canadian, was spotted on the site in 2007 by Scooter Braun, signed to a major label a year later, and hit the US charts by the summer of 2009. Lifted from the "My World" EP, his debut single, “One Time,” went Top 20 on both sides of the Atlantic and seemed to suggest that Bieber’s sights were set squarely on the teen market.

It all changed when “Baby” released on radio in January 2010. Bieber collaborated with rapper Ludacris. It is an infectious piece of ear candy with a chorus that’s hard to get out of your head. In evidence to this day, one of Bieber’s most excellent skills is his ability to tread the tricky tightrope between out-and-out pop and a grittier, urban sound that keeps things contemporary. Having Usher as his early mentor won’t have hurt his development, but getting Ludacris to appear on this most mainstream of his early hits certainly helped. Then there was “Somebody To Love” that represented another one of Bieber’s signature moves: the floor-filling anthem, as was "My World 2.0" second single. Usher had considered the Eurodance flavour of the track for release before being passed to his protégé. Usher later returned to the way, adding vocals to a remix, but it remains most effective in its original form. Justin would revisit this dance genre time and time in the years ahead.

The album, which consisted of ten tracks on the standard release, Justin serves up a balanced mix of material. In an earlier era and accompanied by a piano, the soul-tinged ballad “U Smile” Bieber was enthusiastic about the cut, co-written by Jerry Duplessis, who had worked with The Fugees—calling it one of the best things he had recorded to date. Then you have songs like “Stuck In The Moment” and “Runaway Love” that have a distinct early-soul sound. It’s a leap to call them Motown-influenced, but there’s something of the legendary label’s spirited, melodic genius in the recordings. Elsewhere, “Never Let You Go” is a hook-heavy synth ballad that would have worked just as well for any of the era’s reigning pop divas – this was universal hit-making in the broadest sense of the word. And when Justin teams up with Jessica Jarrell for the ballad “Overboard,” the blend of their voices makes them virtually indistinguishable.

The album deserves more praise than it was given, as it contains hit songs such as “Baby” and “U Smile.” In 2010 at the American Music Awards, Bieber’s album got nominated and won in four different categories: winning artist of the year, beating pop singers such as Katy Perry and Kesha. Even if people disliked Bieber, everyone knows the catchy tune “Baby.” With its best-in-class vocals, canny collaborations, a palette of well-matched styles, and some of the best songwriting of its day, "My Way 2.0" shows that the future King Of Pop was already sizing up his throne.