Justin Bieber's Voice on Christmas Album is 'Obviously Different, but Rich,' Says Producer

Justin Bieber Tricky Stewart bubble P
Getty Images; Matt Barnes (inset)

"The complaint early on in his career was that he sounded too much like a kid... Now he's got that radio voice," says Tricky Stewart, who produced two tracks on "Under the Mistletoe."

Justin Bieber’s Christmas album Under the Mistletoe hits retailers today, and along with the first helping of new music since last year’s My World 2.0 comes a new round of expectations. How much will he sell out the gate (pre-orders were at a healthy 164,000 at the end of last week)? How fast will it reach gold? Platinum? How will his older, deeper voice be received?

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“His voice is obviously different, but it's rich,” says producer Christopher “Tricky” Stewart, who worked on two tracks from Mistletoe and was also responsible for Bieber’s smash hit “Baby.” “The complaint he had early on in his career was that he sounded too much like a kid for radio,” he continues. “They didn't want to play him when we first started dropping records on Justin. Now, he's got that radio voice.”

To wit: the song “Mistletoe” debuted at No. 11 on the Billboard Hot 100 and his duet with Usher, “The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire),” is expected to chart this week.

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As production goes, it was a family affair. Kuk Harrell, Stewart’s cousin and a wizard of vocals who worked on Rihanna’s “Umbrella” and Katy Perry’s Teenage Dream album, served as the overall producer for Under the Mistletoe. Stewart describes their time in the studio as “a little hectic” while acknowledging, “It's a really big album for us as a company and for him as my partner.” (Harrell is represented by RedZone Entertainment, the company Stewart founded in 1995.)

Stewart has no doubt that the album will land at No. 1 and hopes that the collaboration will continue on Bieber’s next album. Recently, Bieber’s manager Scooter Braun told The Hollywood Reporter that in a perfect world, Bieber’s forthcoming full-length Believe would be ready for release in the summer. Earlier today, Bieber told Amp Radio's Chris Booker that he's hoping for a February or March release. As for what it should sound like? Stewart says the key is being age-appropriate. 

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“He should make music for 17-year-olds,” the producer tells THR. “That culture is alive and well. His relationship with Chris Brown taps him into a part of musical culture that he's not been in before and I think he's going to make an album that's for young people and has a real cool factor to it. He's a creative kid and he's coming his space as a creator and as a writer.”

Indeed, adds Tricky, Bieber’s best days are yet to come: “This guy has had a lot of success at a young age, but I still think he's underrated because people don’t really know how good he's going to be long term.”