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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Review of “Freedom.” by Justin Bieber


Recreation of “Freedom” album art.

“Freedom.,” Justin Bieber’s latest EP that was released on April 4 to all platforms, is strikingly the most “real” and casual that the artist has ever been about music. The EP, with six songs, was released with no fanfare at all. The cover of the EP is literally just a screenshot with the word “Freedom.” written in an iPhone’s notes app—like Bieber just wrote down the idea, screenshotted it, and slapped that on the cover of the entire project. With the casual exterior and lack of advertisement, Bieber lets the music and its quality speak for itself, and the result is surprisingly refreshing. While there are a lot of features on this EP—including BEAM, Tori Kelly, Pink Sweat$, and Chandler Moore— Bieber’s voice sings through with surprising honesty and lack of editing. 

The album’s message seems to be reminiscent and symbolic of humanity facing change in the past year. The title track reminds listeners of the Black Lives Matter movement and other rebellion, and the song “We’re In This Together” speaks to the current pandemic with the lyric: “Even in a pandemic, God is still planning.” The entire EP features allusions to Bieber’s religion and beliefs, tying hope and strength to God and faith. It seems to be no light coincidence that the EP was released on Easter Sunday of this year. With mixing voices, light instrumentation, and shining notes, Bieber’s latest tracks are gospel-inspired, as well as the obvious notes of pop because he remains a pop star. Regardless of your religious beliefs, Bieber’s passion shines through in the cadence of his voice, and the lack of editing or flash is refreshing to the listener who is worn out of glittery, sparkly pop music and culture.

The last track on the EP, titled “Afraid to Say”, begins with soft, high notes. Bieber softly sings, “I’m afraid to say the wrong thing / Criticized from every angle / And I’m afraid to lay it on the line / And selfishly I wanna hold back.” This is not the first time Bieber has alluded to the struggles of fame in this music, and it certainly will not be the last. Snatched into fame at the young age of thirteen, Bieber has been in a glaringly hot spotlight for nearly his entire life. However, with this album, Bieber is trying to convey the message that we all have pain and suffering, no matter how different, and we are in it to fight together. 

Some may be tempted to avoid this new release all together, either because of the religious overtones or a simple dislike of Bieber’s music. For that, I will not attempt to change minds. I, too, will not be listening to this EP regularly, for it simply does not fit the vibe I am going for in my everyday life. However, I still wanted to review it, because when an artist changes profoundly, it is a notable thing for us all in the music community.

If you are a fan on the other hand, keep an eye out! Bieber is touring this summer in places like Nashville and New York—really all over the United States. It remains to be seen how concerts will work in a world still recovering from the pandemic. We cannot predict the future, but as Bieber would say, “We’re In This Together.”