Is it weird that Justin Bieber’s new single — off his very serious acoustic album (just look at that cover art!) My Worlds Acoustic — is called “Pray”? The Bieb’s solid Christian background is a fundamental part of his origin story: His mom originally planned for him to be a pop star in the name of the Lord, and was hesitant at first to let her son sign with his current manager, non-Gentile Scooter Braun (actual quote from Mom Bieber: “I prayed, ‘God, you don’t want this Jewish kid to be Justin’s man, do you?”). But Bieber’s risen to stardom on the back of puppy-love jams, not Kirk Cameron–approved pro-faith messages. Is this a bold, new direction for the diminutive superstar? If so, that’d be kind of a drag: “Pray” sounds like it was cobbled together from leftover Aldous Snow recording sessions — Bieber is bummed that “children are crying / soldiers are dying / some people don’t have a home,” but he’s closing his eyes and praying for a “better day” — and bares not a hint of the impish JB charm that’s made the current Bieberpocalypse not completely insufferable for people over four-foot-eight. Anyway, check out Bieb’s very own “Jesus Walks” right down here.
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