The Problem With... Justin Bieber's "Boyfriend"
Ever since I started this column, I've dreaded going after any track by Justin Bieber. On one hand, the stuff with his name on it is too predictable and manufactured to deride in a unique way. Also, I've always feared that if bash his work, his devoted, networked fans will start a flash-mob around my house or shut me out of the Web, like a teenage-girl Anonymous.
Justin Bieber's latest track, "Boyfriend," changed all that. For one, "Boyfriend" has set white rappers back 20 years.
Incidentally, Carrollton's own Vanilla Ice picked the right time to start recording again. He now has a clean slate. Alternately, rappers like El-P, Eminem, Sage Francis and Brother Ali have to rebuild their credibility in the only music scene where their whiteness is a disadvantage. El-P could start by making another remix for this track, like he did for "Baby "a couple years back.
"Boyfriend" has Justin mumble-whispering over a plain R&B rhythm with a repetitive bird tone. Justin Timberlake impersonator Mike Posner is on the writing credits, and his lines have Bieber making cheap promises like eating fondue and laying in the snow. He even undercuts Buzz Lightyear's "to infinity and beyond" aspiration, settling on just flying around the globe.
Bieber even counts down to a pre-chorus falsetto, leaving nothing to the imagination. Cue a campy acoustic guitar where he promises a "German" or a "gentleman." If he wants to be gentleman, he's gotta keep a lady surprised. I can only imagine Bieber will give his lady fair warning for birthday parties and a wedding proposal.
If this song is any indication, Bieber would make a really boring boyfriend.