Tue, Jul 03, 2012 - Page 12 News List

Classical DVD reviews

Write Me Back, by R. Kelly; Believe, by Justin Bieber; The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than The Driver of The Screw And Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do, by Fiona Apple; Living Things, by Linkin Park

Agencies

And then there’s the song that has defined him most — Baby, perhaps the most saccharine, bubble-gum song recorded in quite some time.

It’s not surprising that few have taken Bieber the artist seriously. But his new CD will help change that.

Believe, his third full-length album, is a 13-track set that shows that Bieber, now 18, is growing as a musician, and the result is enjoyable.

The album’s first single, Boyfriend, is a great pop song that sounds like Justin Timberlake’s falsetto mashed up with the Ying Yang Twins’ The Whisper Song. It’s Bieber’s biggest hit to date.

The rest of the album also has future hits: All Around the World (with Ludacris) is upbeat, as is the futuristic, Big Sean-assisted As Long As You Love Me, which sounds like it could have been produced by Skrillex and David Guetta.

Bieber co-wrote all but one song on the album, working with producers like The Messengers, Rodney Jerkins, Hit-Boy, Diplo, Max Martin, Bei Maejor and others.

His best collaboration is with Drake on Right Here, a 1990s sounding-R&B jam that proves the singer is best on smoother tunes, not Euro-flavored ones. Catching Feelings, a soft, pop groove co-written by Babyface, is arguably the best track, showcasing Bieber’s versatility and hopefully the future artistic heft to come from the singer. It also highlights Bieber’s voice, which is good and improving, though recent live performances of Boyfriend haven’t been that strong.

Believe does have some missteps: Thought of You is weak and the Nicki Minaj-featured Beauty and a Beat is a wasted collaboration.

While Bieber channels Timberlake at times, he also has moments inspired by his idol, Michael Jackson. Bieber samples Jackson’s We Got a Good Thing Going for the nicely done, R&B-tinged Die In Your Arms, and there’s also a bonus track Maria, a song about Mariah Yeater, the woman who falsely claimed Bieber fathered her child. The song recalls Billie Jean, and it’s clever and amusing.

CHECK THIS TRACK OUT: Bonus track Out of Town Girl is another track with Timberlake flavor.

Linkin Park, Living Things, Warner Bros. Records

Living Things, the group’s fifth album, is pretty top-notch from its opening track, Lost In the Echo — which features Chester Bennington’s signature screech — to its closing numbers, the Skrillex-sounding and grungy instrumental Tinfoil, which transitions into the guitar-heavy Powerless. The album is dominated by anger and, at moments, disappointment and rage: Lies Greed Misery and Victimized are self-explanatory, and on In My Remains, Bennington sings: “Falling in the cracks of every broken heart, digging through the wreckage of your disregard.” Living Things comes 12 years after the six-member band released its brilliant debut, Hybrid Theory. The new album was produced by Mike Shinoda and Rick Rubin, and it’s reminiscent of the rap-rock sound of the group’s first two discs. The guys took a departure from that on Minutes to Midnight and 2010’s A Thousand Suns -- also produced by Rubin — which had psychedelic moments and featured excerpts from political speeches.

But Linkin Park never disappoints, and Living Things is living proof.

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