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Today, Canadian treasure and everyone’s problematic fave Justin Bieber turns 24 years old. We’ve followed his career for approximately eight of those 24 years, and it’s been a wild ride—from the arrests and the excessive spitting to the pet monkey and the bucket peeing, there was a period of time when it was anyone’s guess as to what Bieber would do next.
But there have always been two things we can rely on when it comes to Bieber. One: His ability to make a damn good pop song. Two: His ability to join up with one (or four) of his famous musician friends and record collaborations that usually end up being better than we expect them to be. Even the weird ones.
In honour of Bieber’s birthday (and as an excuse to dig up a few forgotten zip up hoodie-era tracks), we decided to put together a list of J Biebs’ 10 most noteworthy musical collaborations. Yes, we went back all the way to 2010 and yes, these are ranked—so don’t @ us.
Part of us still can’t believe that Justin Bieber and Drake recorded a song together. Bieber recorded “Right Here,” for his third studio album, Believe (aka that awkward middle period between My World 2.0 and Purpose), and the song is average at best—surprisingly, Drake’s and Bieber’s styles don’t mesh very well together. But we couldn’t pass up an opportunity to talk about two of Canada’s most popular artists coming together in sweet, sweet musical harmony.
Speaking of Canadian star power, did you know that Justin Bieber and Carly Rae Jepsen recorded a song together? And that the lyrics of “Beautiful” suspiciously resemble the lyrics of “What Makes You Beautiful”? And that those two songs came out just a year apart from one another? Yeah, we didn’t either. “Beautiful” is a sweet love song, but the whole “your low self-esteem is endearing thing” never really vibed with us.
All you need is a little bit of Nicki to make a track a whole lot better. She only gets one verse in “Beauty and a Beat,” but she absolutely kills it and even finds time to fit in a cheeky Selena Gomez reference. Both Bieber and Minaj have veered away from pop and towards hip hop and R&B in recent years, so we’d be interested to see what they come up with if they ever decide to collaborate again.
They named the Bieber documentary after this track for a reason, right? Jaden Smith’s flow could use a little work, but he’s not bad for 12-year-old. And the song instantly gets 10 times better once you watch the music video and get a load of Smith and J Biebs hanging out in the music studio like BFFs.
The fact that the Stratford native had the opportunity to be mentored by either Usher or Justin Timberlake (and that he ultimately went with Usher) has been well documented. So it only makes sense that Bieber eventually recorded a song with said mentor. Listening to Bieber and Usher’s voices one after another really highlights how similar their respective styles were back in the early 2010s. It also makes us wonder how differently things would have gone for Bieber had he picked Timberlake instead.
“Where Are Ü Now” helped establish Bieber as a legitimate electronic pop artist and inform fans that the “One Time” and “One Less Lonely Girl” era was long gone. It’s also notable for being one of the first tracks Bieber recorded with well-known music producers, something that has become somewhat of a trend for him over the last three or so years (since working with Skrillex and Diplo, Bieber has recorded tracks with David Guetta, Major Lazer, DJ Snake, and BloodPop).
It’s not as iconic as “Despacito,” but bringing in Colombian singer J. Balvin to record a “Sorry” remix was a stroke of genius. The original version of “Sorry” was already solid, but Balvin’s verse added a little extra bit of kick and attitude and gave the song a whole new life, ensuring that we didn’t get tired of the Purpose track even though it was impossible to escape back in 2016. We need another Bieber/Balvin collab, stat.
We’d have ranked this track higher if it weren’t for the fact that Bieber has to compete with four other artists for time (and nobody can outshine Chance). The song is super catchy but, like most things DJ Khaled gets his hands on, doesn’t make a ton of sense. Neither does the music video. We’ve got to give it props for reaching No. 1on the Billboard charts, though.
When we heard “One Time,” we knew Justin Bieber was going to be big. When we heard “Baby”? We knew he was going to be massive. Ludacris doesn’t get much of a chance to shine on this track, but we’re kind of OK with that. Teenage Bieber had some pipes, and “Baby” gets stuck in our heads just as quickly in 2018 as it did in 2010.
The music video for the Spanish-language version of “Despacito” may have amassed over four billion views on YouTube, but the version that features Justin Bieber absolutely dominated the charts last summer and arguably became more widely known than the original. We’d have been remiss if we didn’t place this track at number one.