Bieber Baritone – “Under the Mistletoe” isn’t just Justin Bieber’s first Christmas album, it’s his first album as a baritone. The teen sensation is still capable of sounding like he’s singing in his falsetto range even when he isn’t. But from the first not-so-stratospheric notes of “Only Thing I Ever Get for Christmas,” it’s clear he’s been through the “The Change.”
Certain to be the most polarizing track, “Drummer Boy,” where he and Busta Rhymes add topical, lickety-split rap verses to the familiar tale of Jesus’ own percussionist. Bieber also plays drums on the track.
Baritone is a type of male singing voice that lies between the bass and tenor voices. Baritone is the most common male voice. Or, to put it another way, “vocally, his balls have dropped,” as his manager Scooter Braun was quoted as saying this past week.
Mariah Carey guests on a re-do of her own “All I Want for Christmas”. However, it seems more appropriate to say that he guests on her recording. Justin cut the song in a lower range, but then Carey heard it and suggested that they should do it as a duet, provided that he bring it back up to her original key.
This may be the first adaptation of “Little Drummer Boy” to include a mention of mistletoe, a plant not previously mentioned in any extra-biblical accounts of the gift of the Magi. But the title of the album is “Under the Mistletoe,” and Justin manages to make mention of it in almost every track on the album.
Perhaps the album’s most novel idea arrives with “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.” No, he doesn’t sing the often-copied Jackson 5 arrangement of the tune, as you’d expect. Instead, Bieber hews to the traditional melody but then sets it against an instrumental backing that pays as much homage to “I Want You Back” as humanly and musically possible without having to pay royalties. That subtler tribute is a clever, if slightly bizarre, way of bearing gifts for the late King of Pop.