Justin Bieber’s new release, “I Feel Funny,” is technically a video for what could broadly be considered music—it’s a quick thing he and Lyrical Lemonade mastermind Cole Bennett slapped together between takes on another collaborative project, the upcoming video for his song “Honest.” You might even call “Funny” an ad for that song (shots in the video preview “Honest” setups). But above all else, “I Feel Funny,” is content, which means it has little responsibility beyond its own existence. It’s like one of those obvious tweets that go like, “Sometimes I get scared of the dark,” or, “I gave away my seat on the subway to an old person this morning,” or, “Skincare tip: water,” that are so banal that their virality seems inexplicable until you realize that the banality, in fact, explains everything. “Funny” is just a quick, cute thing to take up 90 seconds of your life, an amount of time many of us are fortunate enough to have to spare? I watched it twice. What a privilege.
In it, Bieber bops around a video set, wearing a Day-Glo orange ski mask, while a barely there beat with matching vocals (more recited than rapped) plays. “This shit dicey/You entice me/What’s your sign?/I’m a Pisces/Please, don’t spite me/Please, no fighting,” it goes in part. “I Feel Funny” is marked by a lack of effort. It’s just jokes—and they’re on you if you take it too seriously. “We shot this in about 15 minutes, hope you enjoyed it,” reads an on-screen message toward the clip’s end, as Bieber does the cabbage patch.
This slapped-together aesthetic also suggests a certain self-entitlement and gloating from an artist who is still well within his imperial phase, during which so much of what he touches turns to gold. (“Stay,” his megahit with Kid Laori, first hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in August, and remains in the Top 10.) “You’ll watch this because of course you will,” is the message of “I Feel Funny.” Why try when you can command attention by not trying? Anything Bieber releases—including gas—would command attention. It’s probably fun to play with that amount of power, but it’s less so to behold. Of course this guy can do this thing.
In the video’s description, Bennett tells the story of how it came together:
Justin randomly texted me this song one day and said “should we do a visual to this? song straight to number 1.” We joked around about doing a video for it but never did. A few weeks later we were doing a pick up day for a video we had recently shot, but never finished (Honest). We had a bit of time switching over from scene to scene. So, I went into his trailer and said “Remember that song you sent me? Let’s shoot a video for it on my phone in between takes of the actual video.” ... The rest was history. Enjoy.
It’s not history—yet. If in fact this does go to No. 1 (and it might!), it will be. This is the world we live in.