When Justin Bieber is at the top of his game, it's pretty easy to understand why he gets all the little girls rioting, er, swooning.
When the 16-year-old Canadian sensation declares this "My World 2.0" (Island Def Jam), more or less the second half to last year's debut "My World," he has a pretty good idea about how right he is.
The first hit, "Baby," shows the Bieber Fever machine firing on all cylinders. Starting with the near-
irresistible chorus, Team Bieber starts adding all the other elements to be a successful tween dream. Bieber sounds "street" enough to be somewhat cool, especially when Ludacris drops a verse, but not actually street-savvy enough to be dangerous. He sings about the dreamy ideal of love, without getting into the specifics. It's fun and sweet and oh-so-innocent.
Bieber repeats the formula throughout "My World 2.0," with the equally swoony "Stuck in the Moment," where he name-drops famous couples, and the island-tinged "Eenie Meenie" collabo with Sean Kingston, where he gets to flex his R&B phrasing and stretches his vocals a bit while dogging out an indecisive girlfriend. Even on "Never Let You Go," which owes more than a little to Chris Brown's "Forever," he holds it together.
The problems start, though, when he gets bogged down in soupy ballads - especially "Up" and "That Should Be Me," which sound like 'N Sync rejects. They serve as reminders that, though Bieber's on top of the world now, that perch is always quite slippery.
JUSTIN BIEBER : "My World 2.0"
BOTTOM LINE: Well-crafted, tween-tastic pop