At the age of 16 years old, Justin Bieber became the youngest artist to debut at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 since Stevie Wonder topped the charts in 1963. In the years since, he’s shed his tween idol image and emerged as a serious, if controversial, artist. The intense media interest around him has sometimes meant his music has played second fiddle to his personal life, but if you can look beyond the headlines, you’ll find an ambitious, creative artist who takes risks, understands their craft, and knows how to deliver the goods. Here, we take a deep dive into his discography as we rank all 6 Justin Bieber albums.
In March 2021, Bieber dropped his sixth studio album, Justice. In terms of guest appearances, he pulled out the big guns, with Khalid, Chance the Rapper, Dominic Fike, and Burna Boy all contributing their talents (invest in the Deluxe edition, and you’ll also get the benefit of DaBaby, Tori Kelly, Lil Uzi Vert, and Jaden). The hits are certainly there, with Holy, Lonely, Anyone, and Hold On all reaching the Top 20. The fifth single, Peaches, went one step further and sailed all the way to the top of the Billboard 100. Yet despite that, it’s not a faultless album. The production is excellent and Bieber’s smooth vocals are on point, but the lyrics are somewhat spiritless and clumsy. It’s not entirely clear what he’s trying to say or why he wants to say it, resulting in an album that, while good, falls short of his best work.
5. Under the Mistletoe
Return of Rock describes Under the Mistletoe as a “harmless, fun album” – all things considered, it’s a pretty accurate summation. Critically, it was a mixed bag, but even its harshest critics couldn’t deny that Bieber had put the work in. Whereas most Christmas albums are a lackluster collection of old festive hits, Bieber went to the effort of co-writing a whopping nine of the album’s 15 songs. They don’t all work, but you have to give him kudos for trying. The covers are a little hit and mix, varying between the silly (Little Drummer Boy) and the inspired (Santa Claus Is Coming to Town). Ultimately, it’s not an album to be taken too seriously (even if Bieber did feel compelled to tweet “forget the hype…i want it to be about the music. listen to the cd. then judge me.”) Go into it with your festive hat on, and you’ll find little reason to be disappointed.
After 2015’s Purpose, Bieber stepped away from the recording studio for a full 5 years. He returned in 2020 with his fifth studio album, Changes. From a sales perspective, it was a massive success, debuting at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, entering the Top 5 across multiple European countries, generating a handful of Top 10 singles, and eventually certifying platinum. Critically, it was a different story. As thethings.com notes, many fans had expected Bieber to find his creative muse during his time away and to come back with a new level of maturity. That didn’t happen, at least in most people’s eyes. Although Bieber’s vocals are hard to fault, the lack of variation, formulaic arrangements, and simplistic lyrics drew derision, with the NME writing the entire thing off as a “limp” comeback and “a knackering, loved-up slog lacking substance.” Not everyone was quite so harsh – the awards body at the Grammys liked it well enough to nominate it for Best Pop Vocal Album – but all things considered, it wasn’t necessarily the best comeback in the world.
3. My World 2.0
After making waves with his debut EP, My World, Bieber made good on the record’s promise with My World 2.0. Ultimately, this was an album made by a teenager, for teenagers. If you go into it expecting artistic arrangements and profound lyrics, you’re going to be disappointed. That doesn’t make it a bad album- far from it, in fact. The lyrics, which deal primarily with puppy love and coming of age situations, are fun, the vocals are excellent, and the production is sleek. Considering Bieber was only 16 years old at the time of making the record, it’s an incredibly accomplished effort. Released on March 19, 2010, it debuted at No.1 on the Billboard 200, making Bieber the youngest solo artist to top the chart since Stevie Wonder.
Two years after releasing My World 2.0, Justin Bieber was all grown up (well, 18 anyway) and ready to unleash a new side of himself on the world. In comparison to his debut, Believe is a surprisingly mature effort. Clearly looking to shed his tween idol image, Bieber switched up the sound. It’s still pop, but there are enough elements of dance and R&B to keep things interesting. The beats are heavier, the hooks are bigger, and the lyrics are sexier. His voice is as strong as ever, and while the slice and dice approach of the production leaves a lot to be desired, it’s still an excellent album. Released on June 15, 2012, it debuted at No. 1 in the US and enjoyed similar success internationally.
Finally, we get to Purpose, Bieber’s fourth studio album and, for most fans at least, his best record to date. Sonically, it’s hugely ambitious, combining dance-pop with EDM, hints of tropical house, and flourishes of acoustic guitar. It might be less mainstream than his previous offerings, but few would argue the change in musical direction is a misstep. Neither would many people argue that the lyrics aren’t more polished than on previous albums, or that his newfound confidence doesn’t elevate his vocals to new heights. Mature, fearless, and compellingly enjoyable, this was the album that converted millions of non-Beliebers to the cause and reawakened the faith in millions more. Released on November 13, 2015, it peaked at No. 1 in the US and topped the charts in another eleven countries to become one of the best-selling albums of both 2015 and 2016.