Justin Bieber vs. Fiona Apple: A battle of extremes, but who comes out on top?

This was a momentous week in the record release world.  Two highly anticipated albums came out, and they literally could not be more different.  One, Justin Bieber’s “Believe”, was maybe designed to appeal to the most people possible.  While this isn’t a bad goal, it also means the record could be devoid of much personality so as not to alienate any potential listeners (read: buyers).  The other album, Fiona Apple’s “The Idler Wheel” (full title later), doesn’t give a squid’s tentacle (explained later) whether people like it or not and took her sweet time (7 years) to get this album out.  While quirky and unique, it might be a bit too quirky and unique for some.  What’s a mainstream, somewhere-between-totally-alternative-and-boy-band-rock gal to do?

My favorite friend, Spotify (I swear I don’t get paid to talk about Spotify, but I would happily take their money if they wanted to give it to me), helped me evaluate the two extreme albums by listening to each for a day or two.  Here, a very objective comparison broken down into many useful categories.

Album Title:

Bieber: “Believe”.  Straightforward, simple, easy to understand, very little (if any) hidden meaning.  On the other hand, it's so generic that it could really mean anything.  Brilliant!

Fiona: “The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do”.  WTF, Fiona?  I fancy myself to have at least moderate intelligence, but this one stumps me.  I spent about 30 seconds trying to decipher it but then decided I didn't care that much.



Album Cover:



Well, more straightforward you cannot get.  The title is clearly depicted in a no-nonsense font, and his face is front and center for optimal brand recognition.  I wouldn’t say it’s particularly inspired, though.



This looks like someone’s anatomy dissection project, a bit unsettling.  However, it’s colorful and interesting- curious even.



Song Names:

• All Around the World
• Boyfriend
• As Long as You Love Me
• Catching Feelings
• Right Here
• Fall
• Die in Your Arms
• Thought of You
• Beauty and a Beat
• One Love
• Be Alright
• Believe
• Love Me Like You Do

Ah, if you didn’t already know Biebs had found true love in one adorable Selena Gomez, you might glean it from these titles.

• Every Single Night
• Daredevil
• Valentine
• Jonathan
• Left Alone
• Werewolf
• Periphery
• Regret
• Anything We Want
• Hot Knife

Hmm, a bit darker than Biebs’ titles- even a little mysterious.  Who is this Jonathan and why did he leave her alone?  Is he a vampire?  One must listen to the album to find out.  How enticing!

WinnerFiona gets this one based on a higher intrigue value.


iTunes Chart (two days after release of both albums):

Biebs: #1 (deluxe edition) and #6 (regular edition)

Fiona: #5



Rolling Stone rating (out of 5 stars):

Biebs: 3 stars

Fiona: 3 ½ stars

WinnerFiona by a smidge


Guest Appearances by Other Famous Singers:

Biebs: Ludacris, Big Sean, Drake, Nicki Minaj

Fiona: None

WinnerBiebs, duh (Really, Fiona?  You couldn’t even get Will.i.Am to chime in on just one song?)


For those of you keeping score, it’s tied at 3-3 right now.  How exciting!  For the tiebreaker, we will consider the first video from each album:


Biebs: “Boyfriend” (82,733,045 YouTube views at press time)

Again, Biebs doesn’t keep us guessing.  There is some dancing, a girl (not Selena!) and a car (he can drive?).  The video is fine but not very creative.

Fiona: “Every Single Night” (209,321 views)

And this video has a squid (on her head!), snails (all over her body!) and an alligator (possibly a crocodile).  I have no idea what those animals have to do with the song or why they’re featured so prominently in the video.

WinnerNeither, Justin’s was boring and Fiona’s was weird.


That leaves the score tied after a purely quantitative analysis of the two albums, which leave me to make the final call.  And I choose…Fiona!  She’s a little kooky, but if you stick with the album for a day or so you will start to appreciate that the songs are a little interesting.  I got tired of “Believe” after a day.

Happy listening!

Filed under: Album Reviews


Leave a comment
  • Since rock-n-roll died just before Disco came out in the mid to late 70s....

Leave a comment