The Bottom Line
Yes, Justin Bieber's "Boyfriend" does sound like a deliberate attempt to fill in the yawning gap left in contemporary pop music by the five year absence of that other Justin. It also has one of the silliest raps in recent memory in a major pop release. However, it is catchy and Justin Bieber's singing is solid. Ultimately, it all adds up to a slight but occasionally entertaining single.
- Solid singing
- Catchy hook
- Silly rap
- Simplistic song
- Derivative of Justin Timberlake
- Written by Mike Posner and Mason Levy
- Produced by Justin Bieber, Michael Posner, and Mat Musto
- Released March 2012 by Island Records
Guide Review - Justin Bieber - "Boyfriend"
Recently turned 18, it is no surprise that Justin Bieber would make an effort on the first single from his upcoming Believe album to adopt a slightly more adult sound and approach. It also seems no surprise that he would use Justin Timberlake as his model, particularly when he moves into falsetto range. Unfortunately, as producer and writer it is clear Justin Bieber's collaborator Mike Posner is no Timbaland. "Boyfriend" has its pleasures, notably Justin Bieber's solid vocals, but it is rather spare, simplistic, and, in the case of the opening rap, a bit silly.
The lyrics for "Boyfriend" can be summed up as, "If I was your boyfriend, I would be a good one and give you everything you want." That is simple, direct, and pleasurable, but it's not a lot of substance to expand into an entire song. "Boyfriend" kicks off with a rap segment that sounds like a feeble attempt to match Chris Brown's opening to "Look At Me Now." Unfortunately, Justin Bieber has neither the swagger nor self-deprecating humor that was used in "Look At Me Now." Instead Justin Bieber uses his middling rap skills to expound on the joys of eating fondue by the fire and offering to be the girl's Buzz Lightyear. Fortunately thirty seconds into "Boyfriend" Justin Bieber sings, and it is fun to hear his maturing voice.
"Boyfriend" both points out the pleasures in listening to Justin Bieber as a recording artist and puts in the spotlight his weaknesses. He is a pleasing pop singer that can deliver a chorus that is cathcy and memorable. However, his attempts to match the swagger of top R&B artists is mostly embarrassing, and there is little nuance or emotion expressed here in the song. The lack in those directions makes the overall recording sound immature and simplistic. Justin Bieber, in his efforts to evolve into a promising young adult artist, would do well to look at colleagues such as Chris Brown, Rihanna, Taylor Swift, and, yes, Justin Timberlake, to realize they all successfully made the transition into relevant adult artists by digging deeper and making their music more personal. Let's hope that Believe gives Justin Bieber the opportunity to explore more deeply as an artist and person.