Justin Bieber, "My World 2.0"

84 Billboard Rating

Mammoth-sized expectations. A fast-tracked recording process. Looming puberty. What could have contributed to a drastic sophomore slump instead all worked in Justin Bieber's favor on his latest album, "My World 2.0." The 16-year-old's follow-up to last November's "My World" shrewdly elevates him from a fleeting teen phenom into an evolving pop artist. The songs "Somebody to Love" and "Eenie Meenie" are hardwired for top 40, while the breezy groove of "Runaway Love" recalls both Janet Jackson's "Runaway" and Justin Timberlake's "Rock Your Body." And with a Motown vibe, "U Smile" should appeal to some older listeners. It's all very sweet until "That Should Be Me," an orchestral ballad where Bieber plays the scorned ex. (He sings over Pro Tools sheen, "Did you forget all the plans that you made with me?") The premise couldn't be further from the truth, but giving his fans the power remains Bieber's greatest weapon.--Monica Herrera

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