With his new “Justice,” Justin Bieber has finally knocked “Dangerous: The Double Album” off of the top of the Billboard charts, where that country release had held the No. 1 position for 11 weeks despite a racist video that emerged of singer Morgan Wallen and got him suspended by his label.
But now here comes Bieber with an album that begins with a sound bite quote from the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. — “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere” — and continues later with a lengthy appropriation from King’s 1967 “But If Not” sermon.
So this must be Bieber’s protest album, right? No. It’s a pop record of love songs to his wife, Hailey Baldwin — the subject of “Die for You,” which follows the clip of the King speech.
Beyond these abominations of performative branding, the album is solid and an improvement over Bieber’s lackluster 2020 “Changes,” with competent pop songs like “Peaches,” which spotlights Daniel Caesar and Giveon and now tops the Billboard Hot 100.
“Lonely,” the last track, offers something more. A collaboration with Benny Blanco and Billie Eilish’s brother, Finneas O’Connell, it’s a heartfelt performance that brings home the child star’s lot of being world famous yet utterly isolated. “Everybody saw me sick, and it felt like no one gave a s—,” the 27-year-old Bieber sings.