What was the biggest track on Twitter history yesterday (arguably…?), Boyfriend’s release sparked those aforementioned Beliebers’ hearts to be all-a-flutter with love, admiration and estrogen-driven fan girl excitement. But… is it worth the wait?
When I first heard the song’s 1:30 preview on iTunes, I thought to myself, “What’s the big deal? Why are girls so obsessed with this?” And then, after I closed my laptop and got ready for bed, that snippet got stuck in my head insistently until I eventually caved to the powers of Bieber and actually downloaded the track. I listened to all 2 minutes, 52 seconds of it on my way to work this morning for the first time.
The first thing that’s worth mentioning is, Justin Bieber is rapping. Like, actually rapping. I can’t even imagine the criticism he’s going to get for this from all the ‘haters’ out there. It’s like LFO’s Summer Girls, or that special moment in music history when Rodney Dangerfield became Rappin’ Rodney. It’s kinda like that. Sure, the Biebs has a little hip-hop cred after publically hanging out with pals Chris Brown and Drake, but still… he’s rapping. I don’t really care who his friends are. How is the rapping? It’s perfectly adequate; he’s not Eminem, but he’s not Vanilla Ice either (and hopefully he’ll never go down Ice’s Surreal Life road) and he sounds like he’s making love to the microphone as he speaks very close to it with his newly, fully masculinized vocals.
Ironically, while Justin proclaims he’s going to “Take me places [I] ain’t never been before” the song sounds remarkably Timberlake-esque. In fact, while teeny bopper Bieber fans are totally unaware of N*SYNC, Boyfriend is completely reminiscent of N*SYNC’s Girlfriend. Justin busts out his own rhymes instead of leaving them up to Nelly, and he’s one guy instead of a five-guy unit (although how much did J.C, Chris, Lance and Joey really contribute to Girlfriend anyways?) but the song follows that same spitfire-wordiness-followed-by-babymaking crooning formula and Bieber’s falsetto hits all the Omeletteville highs and lows that demonstrate the potential for his career to follow a similar pattern as someone like ‘the other Justin’.
The track is catchy. I’ll give it that. Not unlike Girlfriend it becomes both more mundane (content-wise) and more addictive (melody-wise) with each listen. Hearing the Biebs sing a line like “Chillin’ by the fire while we eatin’ fondue” brought literal LOLs and his “I could be your Buzz Lightyear” isn’t much better… but hey… it’s harmless, really. And all the little girls thinking about being Bieber’s girlfriend are going to love the thought of him never letting them go and being a gentleman. And that being said, the song does have a nice, crisp sparseness to it that isn’t bogged down with that irritating synth-y muddled sound that too many pop songs have these days.
All in all, I would have expected more from Justin at this stage of the game; he has to compete now with the up-and-coming One Direction, Big Time Rush, and The Wanted and while his fans are devoted, he should be looking to pick up a few extras along the way because teenage girls don’t stay teenage forever. I would have hoped for a fuller, more interesting sound and the opportunity to bring something totally new to the table and not an early 2000s re-hash. Unfortunately for today’s producers, some of us do remember our lost years of 2000-2003. We can spot a soundalike the same way rich girls can spot a fake diamond.