Credit to Justin Bieber for the effort he put into Under the Mistletoe. Most artists sleepwalk through Christmas albums, but Bieber took this release so seriously that he co-wrote nine of its 15 songs and was motivated to tweet, “forget the hype...i want it to be about the music. listen to the cd. then judge me.” Bieber definitely sounds more enthused by the original songs -- some of which resemble everyday numbers with patched-on seasonal references -- and a cover of Mariah Carey's “All I Want for Christmas Is You” (featuring Carey herself). The versions of holiday staples are pulled off with varying results; “Little Drummer Boy” gets a goofy modernized spin with Busta Rhymes, while “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town” lifts bits of the Jackson 5's “ABC” and “I Want You Back” (rather than echoing the Jacksons' version of the song). Some of the Bieber fan base might be a little miffed that the inspirational ballad “Pray,” included on My Worlds Acoustic, makes another appearance here. There’s also the fact that Bieber (still) has yet to release a standard full-length album. He has two EP-length releases, a compilation of those two releases, a set of (mostly) acoustic versions, an EP-length remixes/documentary tie-in disc, and now a holiday album, to his name.
AllMusic Review by Andy Kellman