Justin Bieber: My Worlds Acoustic

Justin Bieber
My Worlds Acoustic
Island Def Jam
Rating: ★★½☆☆

Oh noes – the music industry has run out of album titles! Well, at least the people at Bieber’s label have run out of titles. It was one thing to release an EP named My World and then name the follow-up LP My World 2.0 – as overplayed as the “2.0” thing is, it’s zeitgeist-y enough to be acceptable coming from an artist that has never lived in a world without the Internet. But then, to release a third record in three years, and this time naming it My Worlds Acoustic, well that’s just bullshit. That MWA is essentially a rerecording of 2.0, with practically identical song listings that make it even more clear that the Bieber camp wasn’t even going to try to pretend like they were putting effort into the project – they could have just called it Give Us Your Parent’s Money, You Idiot Kids and the money-grab would have seemed a bit more subtle.

But then again, this the Bieb’s last album before he becomes a man – in the chemical/hormonal sense – so you can’t blame the label for trying to milk that cow for all it’s worth – the odds of the world’s tweens still being infatuated with the Canadian wunderkind once he gets his short n’ curlies are quite slim. Which is not to say that the kid is untalented – honestly, he’s probably the most gifted teen heartthrob in a generation – but so much of his career is built on exploiting his teen-ness, that it’s hard to see him transition into the world of adult pop smoothly. If you take away his age, Bieber is just another placeholder, a front man for an army of songwriters and producers that will keep cranking out the hits whether he’s around or not. The Machine will just move on to the next kid once Justin’s audience is old enough to realize they’ve been had.

Of course, that doesn’t really say much about the music on MWA, which is prefectly innocuous pop, inoffensive pablum that for the most part will be forgotten once the kids get back from Christmas vacation. The version of his mega-hit ‘Baby’ on MWA is really the only stand out, it’s stripped down approach highlighting the more doo-woppy elements, though it sadly lacks another guest spot from Ludacris. The live version of ‘Favorite Girl’ is pretty fun as are the rest of the 2.0 retreads, but when the album takes a decidedly un-acoustic turn in the last quarter, things go horribly awry. “Pray,” his attempt to cash in on the modern worship-music crowd, is awkwardly insipid and recalls MC Hammer’s similarly titled, career-ending attempt at shoehorning spirituality into popular song, and we’re best off ignoring the egregious celebrity appearances from R&B star Usher and the less-talented-spawn-of-Will, Jaden Smith.