Would you settle for “beating DJ Mustard” and also “beating Ne-Yo,” Biebs?
Crystal Leww: I think Justin Bieber is a fine pop vocalist, and while he’s been making some great pop bangers with dance producers, I find that he lacks the ability to be a great dance vocalist. A great dance vocalist sounds like their world is ending. A great dance vocalist takes everything personally. A great dance vocalist sounds big. “Sorry” is a BANGER, but I pray everyday to hear a produced version of the Julia Michaels demo. There’s a rumor that there’s a version of “Let Me Love You” with Bieber’s ex Selena Gomez floating around. This is definitely Good, but I’d rather be listening to that instead.
Ryo Miyauchi: “Lean On,” the comedown? DJ Snake’s follow-up rides down the same road as his previous smash. Fine by me: I’d happily eat up a dozen more of these filtered bass lines and chopped vocal burps. That said, he’s going to have to start looking for more compelling singers. Bieber does softness fine, but I still taste the aftertaste from the self-absorbed ego in Purpose in the line “let me love you.” Is that all it really takes, Bieber?
Alfred Soto: Bieber took a pill in Ibiza.
Patrick St. Michel: DJ Snake has flexed his versatility over the years, proving he’s far more than the one-note goofball producer the stupidly fun “Turn Down For What” many paint him as. Unfortunately, “Let Me Love You” only showcases his ability to recycle ideas already done much better by himself in the past, and that maybe we’ve reached saturation point with Justin Bieber for the moment. It’s saving grace is that of the two new Biebs-featuring songs released this week, “Let Me Love You” sounds way better than “Cold Water.”
Thomas Inskeep: It sounds like every other Bieber-voiced EDM-pop record, so it’s not bad, but it’s no standout, either.
Will Rivitz: I was under the impression that the Biebs had left half-hearted electronic snoozers behind upon retouching his image — apparently I was wrong.
Brad Shoup: Well, look at that: DJ Snake scraped the smarm off the kid. He’s invested: pleading, consoling, breaking off a cadence on the chorus that ought to keep this a hit for the summer. As a nice capper to this propulsive nightdriver, DJ Snake turns Bieber into a trumpet.
Will Adams: He did it, you guys. Bieber delivered a vocal that actually sounds good and doesn’t infuriate me. He’s actually pushing from the chest instead of just expelling breath. Apart from that, though, there’s virtually nothing daring or exciting about “Let Me Love You” — this mashup already exists — except for the curious choice to make the drop be the least hard-hitting portion.
Katherine St Asaph: Better than Ne-Yo, worse than Mario, way worse than Kim Sanders. The first notes had me petrified this was yet another “Intro” interpolation; the verse had me petrified Justin Bieber had Stockholm syndromed me into finding his voice acceptable and thoughts deep. No fears were realized; nor were any promises.
Edward Okulicz: Maybe we’ll look back on this time as Bieber’s imperial phase because even though this song is only pretty good, it’s clear that he’s found the sound his voice is best suited to and is going to keep doing it until the returns diminish, and it hasn’t happened yet. I mean, if it weren’t JUSTIN BIEBER!!! and it was some no-name you’d think this guy had a touching earnestness and vulnerability. Plaintive! I wouldn’t trust him to carry a proper stuffed banger but these lightly emotional pop-dance numbers are perfect for him, for his audience and for pop generally.
Scott Mildenhall: Where Major Lazer stumbled with “Cold Water” was their eagerness to saturate it with wobbly and wonky noises at the expense of making a fully rounded song. “Let Me Love You,” while all its wriggling Snakeisms are present and correct, gets the balance right. Bieber actually has something to work with: a sense of a story with an appropriate mood, not bludgeoned by the sonics, but matched and elevated by them. It’s all appealingly desperate, and as was clear in “Sorry,” straining pleas are exactly what his voice was made for.
Andy Hutchins: Is not: Mario singing Ne-Yo’s beautiful words over a perfectly wistful Scott Storch (!!!) instrumental. Is not: Ne-Yo swagger-jacking maybe his best composition almost a decade later. Is not: Ariana carefully whispering with an assist from Weezy. Is: An overwritten, underproduced exercise in pushing Justin Bieber’s falsetto into places it should not go; a frustrating refusal to leaven Bieber’s (admittedly excellent) pleading approach with a little humor, as “Sorry” did to great effect; a shameless effort to continue mining the Jelena breakup for unearned pathos; the first DJ Snake single since “Turn Down For What” I have not really liked.