Belieber or not, Justin Bieber has now been at the vanguard of pop culture for nearly a full decade. The person who many thought would never break out of the sea of Youtube cams-stars has never ceased to hold sway over his fanbase (who are legion) and the world at large, enthralling us all with a combination of his uncannily catchy pop melodies and his limitless supply of tabloid fodder.
After rocketing to fame as a minor, plummeting as low as peeing in a mop bucket, and rocketing right back up in a redemption arc straight out of a Disney channel movie, Justin Bieber now sits at a very comfortable place in his career trajectory; he’s seen it all, done it all, and certainly said it all. What we have left is a surprisingly robust body of songs – some of the best pop songs of this generation in fact, all the more surprising given that he is not even a quarter century old.
And so, we ranked. Unlike the parameters we set for our previous song rankings, we felt that we could not disqualify the tracks on which the Biebz is merely a guest artist on someone else’s song. This decision comes not from our desire to include his remix of “Despacito,” but because one such song is a contender for being his very best, official listed artist be damned (more on that below).
From “Beauty and a Beat” to “Baby” to “Boyfriend,” these are the Top 25 Justin Bieber Songs of All Time:
25. “Eenie Meenie” ft. Sean Kingston
Biebz linked up with Mr. ‘Shawty Fire Burning on the Dance Floor’ himself Sean Kingston right as the former’s relevancy was on peak come-up and the latter’s relevancy was on its way out the door. The fruit of their collaboration is a true oddity; Kingston’s shorties are no longer on fire but are now ‘eenie meenie miney mo lovers,’ a fact which both are keen to remind us of numerous times. Only in 2010 could we find two teenagers repurposing a children’s nursery rhyme into the setting of a club and deign to call it ‘cool.’
What’s not to love about “Company”? There’s a decent amount going on production-wise in a good way and the lyrics are just the right amount of cheesy, in our humble opinion. An instant, though less-obvious, classic from Purpose.
23. “2U” (David Guetta ft. Justin Bieber)
One of several excellent guest features he turned in in 2017, JBiebz once again is able to steal the show for himself on this otherwise forgettable David Guetta track. Reminiscent of his earth-shattering collaborations with Skrillex and Diplo, “2U” is further proof that Bieber’s voice is best-paired with dubstep-oriented, pummelling electronics, even if it doesn’t come close to the musical heights of the aforementioned Jack Ü outings.
22. “All That Matters”
The Timbaland and Missy Elliott circa Aaliyah type beat overlaid with guitar stands out on its own, but Bieber’s lyrics, most notably “What’s a king, babe, without a queen?” make this one a not-to-be-missed, laidback Bieber jam.
21. “As Long As You Love Me” ft. Big Sean
Razor-sharp synth lines wheeze and whir, serrating against Bieber’s earnest pleas for a utopian relationship on this standout from Believe. Big Sean is also on hand to turn in a subdued verse, highlighted by such phrases as “Yo, B-I-G, I don’t know if this makes sense, but you’re my hallelujah.” It’s big, bombastic and overtly dramatic in the way that only 2012 pop could be, where overwhelming feelings were frequently expressed through overwhelming production – a theme expressed vividly in the overwhelming mini-movie of a music video starring Reservoir Dogs‘ Michael Madsen.
20. “Right Here” ft. Drake
Record scratches at the start of a track are always a good sign, and the Drake-featuring “Right Here” is no exception. This fairly deep cut has got some downright lovely production and some fairly decent bars by the 6 God pre-6 God era.
19. “No Sense” ft. Travis Scott
An otherwise standard R&B jam turns into an epic battle over who can sound the most mournful using AutoTune on “No Sense,” an inspired collab between Biebz and Travis Scott. An icy trap beat pierces the otherwise lilting quality of the song, echoing the confusion that Justin feels over a relationship making ‘no sense,’ while La Flame insists that he isn’t sleeping at all unless he’s able to sleep at home with boo. Take note boys, that’s real devotion.
18. “One Time”
Professor Justin Drew Bieber presents us with his paradigm-shifting equation “Me + You” = “I’m a tell you one time” on this classic cut, and we cannot thank him enough for his ongoing contributions to the raging hormones of teenagers around the world.
17. “I’m the One” (DJ Khaled ft. Justin Bieber, Quavo, Chance the Rapper & Lil Wayne)
DJ Khaled could have added 17 more rappers to this bloated posse cut and it would still only work thanks to one key factor – Bieber’s syrupy, sultry delivery of that massive pop hook. Regardless of how much time Khaled spent crafting this beat in his multi-million dollar studio, this is Bieber’s song through and through; a fact made crystal clear in the video as the camera trails a shirtless Justin in his swimming trunks, laughing out lines like “early mornin’ in the dawn, know you wanna ride now (that’s right)”. Everyone else is just window dressing to his melodic foreplay.
16. “U Smile”
“U Smile” was one of those early Bieber jams that instantly captivated preteen girls worldwide while simultaneously annoying the shit out of many adults. He was channelling some serious Aretha Franklin-esque gospel vocals while singing things like “your lips, my biggest weakness” at the ripe age of 16. The whole thing is very confusing, but undeniably deserving of the Top 25.
15. “Confident” ft. Chance the Rapper
Neither Chance the Rapper nor Bieber are particularly thought of as dancehall artists, but someone somewhere had the bright idea to put both artists on a pop-song heavily indebted to dancehall’s sonic flash points. An ode to the mysteries of confident women (they’re down with it), Biebz effectively plays entirely to his seductive register while Chance goes all in on a rapid-fire verse resplendent with plenty of his characteristic squawks in the background.
14. “Cold Water” (Major Lazer ft. Justin Bieber & MØ)
Where to begin with “Cold Water”? The Major Lazer production that integrates both gently shredding guitar riffs and chill syncopated percussion…Bieber’s smooth af voice interwoven with MØ’s angelic airings… We just want to sink down into that cold, cold water and bliss the heck out anytime we hear this one.
13. “Beauty and a Beat” ft. Nicki Minaj
Bieber’s album Believe is riddled with high-profile collaborations, but none proved as successful (or as plain good) as “Beauty and a Beat,” a propulsive floor-filler costarring Nicki Minaj – featured here at the height of her unstoppable run of guest spots immediately following the release of her breakthrough record Pink Friday. Justin’s hook is an earworm for sure, though this track should best be remembered as the moment that Nicki rhymes ‘Bieber’ with ‘wiener.’
12. “Somebody to Love”
This classic bop has a going-through-puberty-voiced-Bieber doing his thing. The production, while extremely 2010, still stands the test of time, and the layered vocals are quite soothing, actually. And I mean, yeah dude, we just all need somebody to love! Find me somebody to love!
Is this single completely derivative of icon-era Justin Timberlake? Yes, it is undoubtedly a half-hearted outing from the playbook of JT’s 2006 masterpiece FutureSex/Lovesounds, but time has been better to “Boyfriend” than we would have thought. Bieber’s moment of breaking the fourth wall to queue his ‘falsetto moment’ is a joke that plays exceedingly well, and the melody is insidious enough to stick easily in the head without falling into annoying territory. Inevitably, it was the necessary moment in Justin’s chronology that announced he was serious boyfriend material, no longer the cherubic youngling of “Baby” years.
10. “Let Me Love You” (DJ Snake ft. Justin Bieber)
Ah yes, the notable producer DJ Snake, responsible for a handful of unforgettable bops in the latter half of the 2010s, and “Let Me Love You” is certainly one of them. This is probably yet another song about the on-again-off-again love of Bieber’s life, the one and only Selena Gomez, but yet again, he turns it out for a track that’s equally ready for the dance floor and the tear-soaked bedroom floor.
9. “Never Say Never” ft. Jaden Smith
First, take a moment to process seeing and hearing Justin Bieber and Jaden Smith as literal babies circa 2010, because it does indeed warrant a moment. J Smith and J B, as they so imperiously call themselves, are a duo made in pop-heaven as this track so gleefully proves. “Never Say Never” is an impenetrable tour de force of a tune, maximizing on radio-ready production and indestructibly-composed melodies so tight that you don’t even register that its children yelling at you to shake your ass – you just shake it.
8. “Love Yourself”
A stripped-back acoustic jam that showcases Bieber’s incredible vocal prowess? With an underlying, sorta feminist theme encouraging his lover to love herself? Sign us the heck up; we’ve liked, we’ve subscribed, we’ve given our thoughts in the comment section, we’ve been revisiting this when we need a good cry.
7. “One Less Lonely Girl”
Listen closely and you’ll still hear the sighs and longing cries of millions of teenage girls whose hearts are breaking embedded in the fabric of “One Less Lonely Girl.” Arriving on his debut album My World, Bieber sounds every bit the innocent angel that he is during this early era – capable of delivering a line like “I’m coming for you, one less lonely girl” without any hint of sinister or ulterior motive behind it. He really is just running for you girl, you don’t deserve to be lonely, you deserve a loving, devoted 15-year old to wipe those sorrows away.
6. “Friends” (With BloodPop)
It’s about time our boy Justin linked up with producer extraordinaire BloodPop – we’ve had our eye on him ever since he got together with Grimes for the Rihanna-rejected banger “Go.” A loosey single but no less significant to Bieber’ oeuvre, “Friends” builds on the sickly sweet EDM sounds he cultivated a few years back with the help of Diplo and Skrillex, taking it into a slightly edgier direction.
5. “Despacito” (Luis Fonsi & Daddy Yankee ft. Justin Bieber)
“Despacito” was already building a narrative of being one of the biggest pop songs of the year, and then Bieber hopped on board. As maddening as it is that it may be that it took the presence of an American artist to push this track all the way to the top of the charts, you can’t help but get swept along in Justin’s coos being added to the mix of this potent pop stew. As he sings in his hook, this remix is capable of turning “every situation into heaven.”
4. “What Do You Mean?”
Another Purpose-era bop, “What Do You Mean?” is one of the few reasons to embrace tropically-tinged EDM with candy raver bracelet-clad open arms. More importantly, it asks the question humanity has been pondering since the dawn of time… “What DO you mean?!”
3. “Baby” ft. Ludacris
Pop music was a crowded field to enter in the revolutionary year of 2010. It was dominated by personalities continually trying to top each other – Lady Gaga, Beyoncé, Katy Perry, one diva after another clamoring to be the biggest. And somehow, through all of that, comes a fresh-faced Canadian boy, not unfavorably compared to a cute woodland creature, who stormed the air waves with his falsetto pleas of devotion to his baby. Ludacris’ verse where he reveals he doesn’t even need a cup of Starbucks to wake him up if he’s sleeping with bae could have been left out, but revisiting “Baby” today is overall like a warm hug from the past; pure pop perfection.
It feels like the only appropriate way to apologize to someone since the Biebs dropped “Sorry” back in 2015 is to belt out its sublimely simple lyrics. A Skrillex co-production, the smooth, syncopated beat was the perfect backdrop for the Purpose single’s extremely bangin’ video, featuring a flock of fierce femmes dancing like no one’s watching, and it’s been stuck in our head ever since.
1. “Where Are Ü Now” (With Skrillex & Diplo)
Initially created by Skrillex and Diplo under their Jack Ü moniker, “Where Are Ü Now” would eventually find its way on both their record and Bieber’s big comeback album, Purpose. What is clear that all the artists involved knew they had something special on their hands, a whole that proved to be far greater than any of its individual parts and bigger than being tied to any one album.
It is perhaps still too soon to measure the profound impact of this song, but it is beyond apparent to herald this track as the singular musical achievement any three of these artists created this decade. From Bieber’s hook to the pulsating beats to the wordless electronic hook, “Where Are Ü Now” functions like clockwork, delivering a hit in every sense of the word.
For more of our song rankings, take a look at our tally of the 25 Best Eminem Songs right here.
- Words: Jake Boyer & Bianca Giulione
- Cover Image: Gustavo Caballero/Getty Images