"Boyfriend," the first single from Bieber's new album, "Believe," is a departure from his tween pop hits "Baby," "Somebody To Love" and "Never Say Never."
The collaboration with Mike Posner actually sounds like a slower version of Justin Timberlake's "Like I Love You," his 2002, post-N'Sync solo debut.
Both songs thrive on pronounced electric guitar melodies, throbbing hip-hop beats and a mix of rapped and sung lyrics.
Bieber's "Boyfriend" lyrics are more assertive than his past credits, and are sung more provocatively: "I'd like to be everything you want. Hey girl, let me talk to you."
Numerous online music fans addressed the similarities to Timberlake.
"I'm sorry but Justin Bieber's new song would be good if it wasn't for the awkward unsexy talking, he thought he was Justin Timberlake," Cher's Helicopter wrote on Twitter.
Huey Mack thinks Timberlake should be concerned. "as much as i hate to say it because Timberlake is a boss. Justin Bieber in 10 years will be Justin Timberlake," he wrote on his Twitter page.
The singer dating actress and singer Selena Gomez discussed writing the song "Boyfriend" with Posner in a behind-the-scenes video posted on his website. "When I was writing the raps for it and the verses I was basically thinking about things I would do if I was your boyfriend," he said.
Considering how smoothly Timberlake transitioned from being a teen idol to a successful adult star, the new direction is a smart move for Bieber.
Comparisons to Timberlake are not surprising. Before Bieber was discovered, he posted a video of himself singing Timberlake's "Cry Me A River" while playing acoustic guitar. Though Bieber ultimately signed a deal with Usher, Timberlake had also expressed interest in signing him.
Last November, Kuk Harrell, Bieber's vocal coach, said the Canadian artist was aiming for a more mature sound for "Believe."
"He's growing as well as his fans are growing. He's progressing so he has to make sure that his music fits where his fans are," he said in an exclusive interview with Yahoo! Music. "His fans from the 'Baby' days, they like 'Baby,' but they probably won't be people that listen to 'Baby,' next year."
Harrell said Bieber's team wanted the evolution of his sound to feel natural.
"We're making sure that we progress properly," he said. "Not keeping him young. We can't do that. Not making him too edgy or too old, but making him just right. [We're] trying to find that perfect spot in the journey."
"Believe" will be Bieber's third studio album and will reportedly include songs with Drake and Kanye West.
- Justin Timberlake
- Justin Bieber