Under The Mistletoe, Justin Bieber’s Christmas album, is first and foremost an attempt to create an exceedingly accessible and marketable Christmas album. Justin Bieber’s music already falls in this tween demographic-exploiting vein, but Under The Mistletoe goes even further. The album spans tons of genres, but not in the cohesive manner that is gaining popularity in contemporary music.
Certain tracks fall into very distinct, definitive genres with minimal combinations. “Home This Christmas” is a country song and “Drummer Boy” is a newfangled hip-hop R&B song. “Someday At Christmas” is a doo-woppy ballad.
That being said, Under The Mistletoe does a very good job of what it sets out to do: be a really listenable pop record. The songs provide a 21st-century rendition of Christmas classics in conjunction with original Bieber songs, which actually demonstrate a great deal of technical proficiency on Bieber’s part. Nat King Cole’s “The Christmas Song” acutely reflects this to the point of being nearly annoying, as Usher and Bieber accentuate and warp the ends of their verses way too much. They make sure everyone knows they have good voices in the most painfully obvious of ways.
Bieber extends this exemplification of his talents even further in “Drummer Boy,” where he raps alongside Busta Rhymes. Granted Bieber’s techniques, like his collaborator’s, are gimmicky in that they involve tremendous amounts of repetitious skipping breaths and cadence manipulations to sound fast and cool. Even so, it works out and shows a tremendous amount of potential on Bieber’s part. Hopefully he’ll pursue rapping more somewhere down the line. For now, though, it serves to make the track one of Under The Mistletoe’s standouts and makes “Drummer Boy,” one of the seasons’ most boring songs, much more pleasing.
In interviews before Under The Mistletoe’s release, Bieber said he wanted the album to be a Christmas classic, like Boyz II Men’s or Mariah Carey’s Christmas albums. He’s managed to one-up himself in that regard, as he has created a Christmas classic, and both are featured on this album. Even though the record has flaws, it’s nothing unique to most pop music that tries to cater to overarching amounts of fans, and Bieber, as always, does it the best.