Justin Bieber. Tweens flock to him like Europeans to Ibiza—some because they must, others because they think they must. You probably know about Bieber, or have heard his songs, if you live on the American continent or have passed through on safari. Bieber’s “Baby” has been viewed on YouTube over 750 million times as of July, 2012, and holds the dubious distinction of being the most-watched YouTube video ever.
Two years ago, an enterprising citizen completely upended Bieber by slowing down one of his songs 800%. Take a listen down below. I can’t say I care much for the unenhanced Bieber, but this I like. The boomerang of the hook hangs frozen in the air, ambient, weightless. Suddenly, I feel calm and unburdened. Warm Siamese waves roll past my body, evoking a primordial dip in the womb. Terrence Malick might have used this etherized Bieber for scenes from The Tree of Life. The effect of the song—serenity, grandness, communion with forces greater than us—would have been much the same.
It’s strange to ponder. Both songs are Bieber. The original and the enhanced versions couldn’t be less similar if an engineer and a musician tried to play a cruel trick on a canny fan. Yet they are from the same mold. For humans traveling closer to the speed of light, this is what Bieber might sound like: a pupil of Brahms, perhaps, in a modern age.
I know this song may be old news to some of you. I probably listened to it for the first time over a year ago. It’s not a song that I’d immediately play if I had ten songs to listen to before a guillotine kissed my neck. But it’s a decent song on its own right, and quietly impressive as a remix. It’s funny—last week I wrote about a publishing company turning classic books into paper manure by shading them greyscale. I guess it’s possible to turn something underwhelming into something respectable. The trick? Make sure the original is unrecognizable.