Review: Justin Bieber – Mistletoe

I have a theory. I don’t expect it to be a popular one, but here goes anyway: Justin Bieber is the male Lady Gaga.


Now, I don’t mean in a musical sense, or (somewhat disappointingly) in terms of fashion either, no matter how much I’d like to see Bieber wearing a giant lit cigarette on his head at his next concert, or shoes that meet regulatory standards for the butchering of cattle, or just dousing himself in pig’s blood and running around screaming, “SISSY SPACEK! SISSY SPACEK! SISSY SPACEK!” as I’m sure Lady Gaga will have to do at some point because ideas are finite.

I mean it in a commercial sense. Lady Gaga exploded into fame with ‘Just Dance’, and Bieber exploded into fame with ‘Usher Bankrolled Me’, a lost b-side from his surprisingly low-selling ‘My Marketing Team Is Brilliant Because I Clearly Lack Sufficient Savvy Or, Frankly, Talent To Ever Be An Artist In My Own Right’ single. They both gained dedicated fan followings in very short periods of time, and both lord over these rabid fan bases via everyone’s favourite new means of thought control, Twitter (hey, also, you should follow me on Twitter!). And they’re both prone to filling time between albums – Lady Gaga has remix albums for each of her full-lengths, as well as the fact that The Fame Monster was technically an EP or a mini-album at best when major pop artists releasing EPs is quite uncommon, and Bieber has everything from an acoustic version of his album to a 3D concert film to being shot to death on CSI.

The other similarity, I think, is that like Gaga, Bieber’s second album proper will be the measure of his success going forward. I would wager that Gaga is already seeing diminishing returns on her fame (and I would also wager that this is her intent, but that’s a whole other thing), and the same may well happen to Bieber. They will each always have their 13 and 15 million Twitter followers respectively – meaning a solid fan base that will keep coming back to them even when what they release is pointedly shitty (Born This Ugh).

So it’s a surprise to me to learn that Bieber is releasing a Christmas album, a move that at first seemed bizarre – it’s only the start of November, so I guess pop is the department stores of music – but according to this simpering review on, such a thing is common practice, as evidenced by the example of *NSYNC’s Home For Christmas in 1998, a filler album (only in pop do they have whole albums as money-grabbing filler) that preluded their most successful album proper, 2000’s No Strings Attached.

Let’s be clear: Bieber isn’t a singles artist. He doesn’t sell singles very well in general. His most successful song, ‘Baby’, only made it to number 5 in the US. All of his singles – ‘Baby’ and ‘Never Say Never’ aside, which made it to number 8 but wasn’t on a studio album – fall in the top 10-20 or lower. Or, okay, he’s not a HIT singles artist, but his songs sell steadily if they never reach the highest of heights. He is more successful in his native Canada than anywhere else, which just goes to show that Canadians simply cannot be trusted.

‘Mistletoe’, as it were, has debuted at number 11; a result, I suspect, of a bit of a dead market. Adele’s ‘Someone Like You’ is coasting at number 1 on the Billboard and the rest of the top 10 have mostly been there for weeks. He might continue to rise and crack the top 10, but given that this is a soft, down-tempo Jason Mraz rip-off (comparing the two makes me think that the new most punchable anything in the world, replacing Jason Mraz in a fedora, would be Justin Bieber in a fedora) that is about Christmas, it’ll probably start to drift further down the chart next week.

The song is surprisingly restrained, soft and so saccharine it would make Wilford Brimley hyperventilate. But unlike songs like ‘One Time’ and ‘Baby, ‘Mistletoe’ isn’t fucking annoying. The lack of irritating beats, Usher, and Bieber trying too hard to reach notes he really can’t hit makes for a not-entirely-unpleasant listening experience. The lyrics, however, are silly as well as saccharine, and throughout my 3 or 4 listens to the song it became more and more irritating.

Also, the music video is comically bad. Featuring some kind of pseudo-narrative where JBizzle and his GF<333xxoxoo wander around in fake snow being Christmassy and a female fan keeps distracting him from her, there are numerous stupid moments:

  1. The fact that Boober’s chickybabe clearly lives in a middle-class suburban home but, when she goes outside to meet her pre-pubescent lover, it is apparently the middle of the city now. Continuity, people!
  2. The fact that Brbererbeber seems to autograph Christmas cards to his girlfriend, which is pretty fuckin’ dickish. “Yeah bitch, this is how successful I am. You’ll get more dresses like these if you bear my children, cook my dinners and never speak outta goddamn turn!”
  3. Stalker-y fan girl’s dance partner at the Inexplicable Christmas Mistletoe Dance of Convenience is exponentially hotter that Jostlin Bierbreb himself so if anything she should be jealous of stalker girl.
  4. Despite being an extremely white bread Canadian kid, Bieber’s songwriters continue to insist he say “shawty” 6 to 10 times a song. It’s in his contract.
  5. For some reason, Bieber is singing on a street in front of one single car so that, for most of the video, it seems like there’s someone sitting in there fuming, “Damn this Bieber kid holding up traffic!” until eventually it is revealed that it is, in fact, Bieber’s car, and he had merely carelessly stopped in the middle of a street to dance a little, look adorable and sing at cameras that aren’t really there, as onlookers slowly surround him and place trembling hands over their mouths and on their cheeks to wipe away tears as they watch an attention-starved schizophrenic boy sing to no-one about a girl who likely does not exist.

We’ll have to wait til 2012 for Bieber’s next studio album Believe. I know what you’re saying – how can I wait, Laurence? How can I, in good conscience, be alive while this music does not exist to be pumped into my earholes? You’ll just have to, reader. We all have to. In the meantime, let’s just hope, as Bieber’s mother does every day, that he’s not let astray by Jews:

While searching for videos of a different singer, Scooter Braun, a former marketing executive of So So Def, clicked on one of Bieber’s 2007 videos by accident.Impressed, Braun tracked down the theater Bieber was performing in, located Bieber’s school, and finally contacted Mallette. Mallette was reluctant because of Braun’s Jewish religion; she remembered praying, “God, I gave him to you. You could send me a Christian man, a Christian label! … you don’t want this Jewish kid to be Justin’s man, do you?”However, after praying with her church elders and receiving their encouragement, she permitted Braun to fly Bieber, then 13, to Atlanta, Georgia, to record demo tapes.


Rating 5.5/10


One thought on “Review: Justin Bieber – Mistletoe

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