Chris Bieber’s “Forever Let You Go”

March 6, 2010 Blog

I recently wrote a column entitled “Nothing New Under The Sun” where I discussed the sound-a-like nature of Owl City to The Postal Service and I defended an artist’s right to imitate and assimilate other artists’ styles. We all know inspiration comes from many places and often times that which inspired can easily be noticed in the art in question. But at some point can inspiration border on plagiarism? In the case of Justin Bieber‘s latest single “Never Let You Go” the answer is “Yes”.

In Bieber’s defense he didn’t write the song, not to mention he just turned 16 and probably has no clue what’s going on. But what is painfully obvious about both the feel and verse/chorus sections of “Never Let You Go” is that writer/producers Johnta Austin and Bryan-Michael Cox have completely plagiarized Chris Brown‘s “Forever” in an attempt to conjure the next summer smash single. There’s no doubt that this Justin Bieber song will be successful in pop charts; it’s catchy, melodic, and has all the appropriate production techniques that a fun bubbly summer hit should have. But I personally cannot listen to the song without wondering if anyone else is picking up on this poor attempt to mimic “Forever”.

Let me break it down for those who might not be picking up what I’m throwing down. “Never Let You Go” begins with a basic 4 on the floor beat (what this means is that the kick drum hits four times in a repeating fashion) and features Justin singing “oh”s as the song warms up. Likewise “Forever” is notable for it’s heavy 4/4 kick drum beat and some vocalise “hey”s floating over the top of the intro. The verses are actually the most disparate parts of the two songs but both serve the single purpose of carrying each respective track until the pre-chorus can lift the song to a new height.

At the beginning of the pre-chorus of “Forever” Chris Brown sings “it’s like I waited my whole life for this one night, it’s gon’ be me, you, and the dance floor”. In copycat method Bieber breaks into the pre-chorus of “Never Let You Go” with “it’s like an angel came by and took me to heaven.” The melodies are almost identical and both sections lead to choruses that feature syncopated melodies bouncing on the off beat of the 4/4 kick drum. In Bieber’s case the words are “let the mu-sic blast, we gon’ do our dance” while Brown simply sings “For-ev-ev-ever, for-ev-ev-ever” on the upbeat.

The second verse of each track are both like the first verses, serving to carry the song to the next pre-chorus. Of note here is that both songs lyrical content are wrapped around dancing. Bieber says “there’s a moment I’ve been chasing, and I finally caught it out on this floor…take my hand, let’s just dance, watch my feet, follow me” while Brown states “it’s like I’ve waited my whole life for this one night, it’s gon’ be me, you, and the dance floor…all you gotta do is watch me, look what i can do with my feet.” The similarities can’t be accidental.

Now the two songs do have rather different tempos with “Forever” being the much quicker paced, and “Never Let You Go” is definitely more bubble-gum poppy than the R&B driven Polow Da Don track. But overall it ought to be apparent to those who choose to pay attention that Justin Bieber’s “Never Let You Go” is a transparent plagiarizing of the far superior youtube wedding ceremony soundtrack sensation.

Don’t believe me. Listen for yourself.

(I’ve matched the tempos to help show the likeness)