After some reported promotional silliness involving supposedly “stolen personal footage,” Justin Bieber has premiered his video for “Beauty and a Beat.” From the Canadian hearthrob’s 2012 album Believe, the track is not a nod to rapper Edan’s psych-devouring 2005 album. Instead, it’s blippy post-Ed Banger electro-pop of the kind recently cluttering Top 40 radio, with co-production by Max Martin and Skrillex’s Owsla signing Zedd. Nicki Minaj is technically the featured guest, but her brief, tongue-twisting bars all but get lost in the flashing and thumping.
Still, Bieber and Minaj have one thing in common: Biebs made a guest appearance this week on one TV singing competition, The X Factor, while of course Nicki has drama going every which way, including from Stevie Nicks, as American Idol fervently hopes you will watch her be a judge on it this season. Bieber’s most recent video, for Big Sean team-up “As Long as You Love Me,” belied its Backstreet-born title to find the pop singer making Mature, Serious faces. This time, Bieber promises that “we gonna party like it’s 3012 tonight,” and indeed, there’s a party, shown through the “stolen” footage: The gimmick here is that Bieber appears to be holding the camera.
3012 looks like a rich pop star’s pool party, it turns out, and kids there are still wearing the ’90s-throwback day-glo rave necklaces of 2011. There are synchronized dance sequences, and yes, Nicki finally arrives, wearing every shade of pink. But fair warning: Once you have seen Bieber grind up against Minaj while singing about how he wants to “make your body rock,” you cannot unsee it.
The whole video is reasonably fun pop frivolousness that would’ve worked just fine back in the MTV era, but in this Vevo age all the “OMG will there be Bieber nude pics?” hoaxing makes it a whole lot harder to like. Right before the video premiered, Justin Bieber’s Twitter account said: “since i was 14 i have had a lot of things said about me, from dying, to taking hormones, to dying again, to stuff about my family… to saying i had a baby with a woman i never even met. nude pics, drugs, my family, my character…but today…today i get to be in on it…” This is not as cute as someone thinks it is.