When Canadian pop singer and former heartthrob Justin Bieber released his Christmas collection, Under the Mistletoe, on November 1, 2011, the world was forever changed.
In all honesty, I haven’t listened to much of Bieber’s music. I stumbled across the Christmas album by accident and haven’t been able to stop listening. This TIMJ is a cry for help amid the horrors of 2020. Still, if this quarter was going to kill me, I figured I’d at least make up for the Belieber phase I missed in middle school.
Hear me out. Under the Mistletoe was the first Christmas set by a male artist to debut as No. 1 on Billboard’s Top 200 list. It sold 210,000 copies in its first week. For context, Michael Bublé’s Christmas album, Christmas, released in the United States only a week earlier, sold 141,000 copies in its first week. Mariah Carey (who the internet has dubbed queen of the holiday season) sold only 45,000 copies of her iconic Christmas album, Merry Christmas, in the first week after its release exactly 17 years prior. (To be fair, it was a different time in the world of music consumption.)
“But Gabby, I don’t like Justin Bieber,” you say.
That may be true, and if so, I respect it. But consider this: One reason many people — even those who haven’t listened to much of Bieber’s music — dismiss him is not because of his ability but because of his fanbase.
Outlets like Treehugger, The Southerner and Study Breaks have written about this, so I won’t harp on it too much, but it’s worth pondering. These articles point out that historically, people have dismissed pop culture sensations as shallow in part because they’re projecting the sexist, ageist trope that teenage girls themselves are shallow. At one point, the same was even thought of the Beatles, whom Iowa Public Radio recently called “the greatest band ever.”
That’s not to say years from now Bieber will be considered the greatest artist of all time, but are you sure you’re willing to risk it when the entire album runs less than an hour?
Under the Mistletoe is composed of both original songs like “Christmas Eve” and “Fa La La” as well as Christmas staples like “The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)” and “All I Want for Christmas is You.” The album also features famous singers like Usher and aforementioned holiday icon Mariah Carey. These well-known, well-loved classics make the album more accessible to pop and Christmas music fans who may not have previously given Bieber the time of day. Not to mention, they showcase his impressive range — newly matured since his 2010 album “My World,” featuring the hit song “Baby.”
If you’re only willing to listen to one song off the album, I recommend “Drummer Boy” featuring Busta Rhymes. Its upbeat energy, driven by a punching drumbeat and bright synth, is exactly what we all need to get through the cold, dark Evanston winter. Bieber’s self-indulgent lyrics
"Yeah, I’m on the beat ‘cause the beat goes dumb.
And I only spit heat ‘cause I’m playing for the Son.
Playin’ for the King, playing for the Title,
I’m surprised you didn’t hear this in the Bible"
will almost certainly hype you up enough to help you ace your finals. Not to mention they’re interspersed with the repetitive lyrics of the original carol, so you can totally fake your way through a holiday lip-sync or karaoke battle with other members of your household.
Take a chance this holiday season. Throw on some JB ,and dance like it’s 2011. And if you’re still not convinced, I’ll leave you with a phrase from the king of Christmas himself: "Never Say Never."