It’s hard to believe that Justin Bieber’s last solo album, Purpose, was released back in 2015. That album, which spawned hits like “Sorry,” “Love Yourself,” and “What Do You Mean,” solidified Bieber’s spot as the Prince of Pop. Since then, the Biebs has guested on Chris Brown’s Indigo album, “I Don’t Care” with Ed Sheeran, and a remix of Billie Eilish‘s Grammy-nominated #1 hit, “bad guy.”
Now, in the first major music release of the new decade, Justin has returned with “Yummy.” Produced and written by Poo Bear in collaboration with Sasha Sirota, Kid Culture, and Bieber himself, “Yummy” is a smooth R&B-influenced midtempo. The track is anchored by delicate synths and a snappy trap melody that wraps itself around the rest of the production without stealing the show. The sound of “Yummy” fits comfortably in the trap-pop/R&B sound that is currently dominating most mainstream R&B and recently gifted Ariana Grande back-to-back #1 singles (“thank u, next” and “7 rings“).
Justin’s voice is in top shape as he reaches near the top of his falsetto and then dips into a more gravelly part of his lower range. As opposed to a murky vocal performance that drips of reverb, Bieber opts for a clearer vocal take that centers the focus on his vocal agility. The suave vocal performance complements the simplicity of the lyrics, even when they border on ridiculous. For example, the chorus (in which Justin repeats, “yeah, you got that yummy-yum/that yummy-yum, that yummy-yummy”) is pretty lazily written, but the way Justin’s vocal weaves around the production and sets a sensual mood and saves it from disaster. Furthermore, the song’s melody is incredibly catchy. Any lyrics, regardless of quality, would stick because of how infectious this melody is.
“Yummy” is the type of song that is safe enough for a first single and adaptable enough to work on different radio formats. It will also easily lend itself to vastly different remixes. Lyrically, the song could be a lot better. A lot. The bridge is particularly bad in that regard (“I’m elated that you are my lady/You got the yum, yum, yum, yum”), but songs with worse lyrics have won awards and become massive hits. The point here is that “Yummy” doesn’t try to be something that it’s not. Justin’s nuanced vocal performance adds an air of self-awareness of the slightly generic lyrics. “Yummy” is a chill and laid-back song that’s equal parts corny and sexy; a formidable return for the Prince of Pop.