XOXO – A Review of Justin Bieber’s Album XOXO

Justin Bieber is one of the world’s biggest pop stars, a heartthrob who captivated young audiences with infectious pop songs and fresh-faced good looks that sparked a global craze beginning in 2009. The Canadian native, born on March 1, 1994, became a YouTube sensation when his mother Pattie Mallette posted videos of him singing popular rhythm-and-blues hits like Ne-Yo’s “So Sick” and Chris Brown’s “With You” as a preteen. Then, after scoring a second-place finish in a local singing competition, Bieber’s life took off. His mentor Usher saw the videos and flew him to Atlanta to record demos, and soon he was signed to an Island Records deal.

A series of wildly successful music videos followed, showcasing Bieber’s dance moves and natural charm. That magnetism has served him well ever since — he has scored 23 GRAMMY nominations, winning two, and has over 89 million monthly Spotify listeners with multiple billion-stream tracks to his name.

He has also branched out into other genres. His 2010 album, My World 2.0, incorporated R&B influences, while his 2013 holiday release, Under the Mistletoe, featured collaborations with Ludacris and Sean Kingston. His next albums, Purpose, Changes and Journals, showcased more mature themes and sounds.

Bieber’s latest project, XOXO, marks a return to the style that made him famous: a mix of pop and R&B with catchy production and a smoky soulfulness that makes it easy for listeners to find their way into.

Even in his most sexy, sultry music, there’s a soft, unassuming beauty about Bieber that endeared him to the teen audience. He’s able to convey that same sense of ease and grace in the more stripped-down acoustic versions of his songs, like in “Confident,” the album’s peak. Here, his voice shines brighter than the breezy production, giving the song an easily trackable core that other musicians can build their arrangements around.

Bieber has always been adept at the music video format, bringing together the visual and musical elements that make him catnip for millions of pop fans. His official clips have complemented his music with images that evoke the whimsy and romance of his lyrics, from the goofy fun in the video for “One Time” to the dreamy, sensual shots in “What Do You Think About That?”

In September 2018, just as he was wrapping up the recording of his newest album, Bieber married his longtime girlfriend Hailey Baldwin in a New York City courthouse. The marriage has been a calming influence in his hectic schedule, helping him focus on what truly matters in his life. There are few times he spends away from the spotlight where he doesn’t feel the pull of the celebrity machine, but he knows that his personal life is something to cherish and safeguard. He’s learned to create boundaries for himself, limiting his social media use and insisting on clocking out of work by 6:00 pm each night so he can hang with Hailey. Those limits allow him to stay focused on what matters most, and that includes the value of family.