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Accuracy • Independence • Integrity

August 19, 2017   |   Ithaca, NY

Accent

‘Under the Mistletoe’: Justin Bieber fails to deliver on spiritless holiday album

Even in the frigid winter months, Bieber fever seems to be heating up. But with his new CD, the teen heartthrob leaves listeners out in the cold.

In “Under the Mistletoe,” Justin Bieber capitalizes on what makes holiday albums a success: a careful mixture of original cuts and renovated covers of holiday classics. He also falters with what could ruin any album — really weird lyrics.

For starters, “Under the Mistletoe” strips away all of the dance-like hip-hop of his debut and sophomore efforts and trades it in for actual R&B. The sweet first single, “Mistletoe,” combines a strummed acoustic guitar and a light synth backing track to make for a cozy ballad that seems far less schmaltzy than Bieber’s earlier attempts at being romantic. Honest-sounding lyrics even compare his love interest to the star that led the Wise Men to Jesus — what an honor, right?

With “Drummer Boy,” fans are ambushed with a mash-up of the chorus and a rap-off between Bieber and Busta Rhymes. Lyrics like, “Playing for the King, playing for the title/ I’m surprised you didn’t hear this in the Bible” are particularly nauseating. The mature-sounding “Christmas Eve” is marred by some questionable lyrics about leaving cookies out for Santa and eating them so his love interest does not know that Santa is not real. My, how romantic.

Other covers are fantastic, namely a funk guitar-enhanced version of “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” and a fancifully produced rendition of “The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire).” No amount of ingenuity salvages “Under the Mistletoe” from its own undoing, which seems to be haphazard songwriting. Judging by this collection of misfired original songs, Bieber is destined to have coal in his stocking this year.

1.5 out of 4 stars.