2. → MAKE YOUR OWN OFF THE WALL
Hey JB, you want to make a seamless transition from teen music idol to adult act? Just study the late King of Pop Michael Jackson’s 1979 masterstroke Off The Wall. Before the Quincy Jones-produced landmark album, MJ was still largely viewed by the public as the cutesy lead singer of the Jackson 5. Sure the Jacksons’ underrated 1978 album Destiny provided a hint that Michael possessed vastly mature songwriting chops. But the 8-million selling Off The Wall was a revelation musically, vocally and sonically, transforming Jackson into a solo adult superstar who would never look back.
From New Edition (1988’s Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis-produced Heart Break) to Justin Timberlake (2002’s Neptunes propelled Justified), Off The Wall stands as the career-changing benchmark targeted by many teen stars looking to expand their demographic. “Bieber definitely needs to follow Jackson’s path,” Barshad says. “It would be smart of him to do a Justin Timberlake and get one producer to do the entire album.”
But Barshad cautions Bieber should avoid making transparent moves. “I don’t think he should copy Timberlake and work with Timbaland and the Neptunes,” Barshad adds. “It would be interesting to see him with someone like a Swizz Beatz who has a good pop ear. And Kanye West would be interesting as well. I think they were even talking about getting Kanye to produce music on his next album. The music scene today is weird. Just look at Raekwon getting on a Bieber remix [“Runaway Love”]. Rap and R&B fans today are not so quick to call people out for making records with a pop act. If no one is selling records anyway then everything becomes an arbitrary genre classification. People are willing to try out new things because the old model is not working.”