U Smile, Justin Bieber

I’ve been putting this moment off for months now, but no more. The Video Watch spotlight wheels around to be confronted by something even brighter: the incandescent visage of a cherubic Justin Bieber. Why the change of heart? Well, clearly there will soon come a time when Justin’s voice will break and things will be very different. Not so long from now — and who knows, it may already have happened — a follicle of facial hair will pop out from his air-brush cheeks — as unwelcome as a podgy/pimply groupie in an otherwise applepie coterie of teenage beauties — changing Justin’s life forever.

Justin has so much to achieve, so much swooning and crooning, so much serious work to commit to tape before the boy becomes a man, when from there on he’ll simply be a more grizzly, rougher, less palatable version of his youthful self. Clearly his minders are more aware of this than anyone. They can see the storm clouds on the horizon; they see the writing on the wall; a dark winter of rebellion, ripped jeans, BO, and bad choices is soon to set in. In the meantime, make hay; make hay like a plutonium-powered combine harvester.

Witness U Smile. An uncomplicated little ditty about a smiling girl? Wash your mouth out with Clearasil! U Smile is a ballad that defines a generation (of tweens with braces) that deserves an epic music video. Why ‘epic’? No video with opening credits has anything less than epic aspirations. Similarly, every music video with a prologue (I’m sorry but you can’t just jump straight into the music, not without context) demands to be taken seriously. So it is with U Smile, where we are thrust into the Eager Bieber’s bittersweet world of teenage adoration.

As it happens, the prettiest, blondest, shiniest admirer is briefly allowed into the world of the Bieber; a rarified world of serious theatres, a piano so large it deserves its own mobile phone tower, and a Jacob’s ladder of a staircase. Cute Girl brings a fleeting moment of joy into Justin’s existence. It’s a chaste joy full of cocked heads, horseplay and knock-knock jokes.

Tragically, for Justin Bieber, this thing you call ‘joy’ is oh-so-fleeting. The very thought of U Smiling sends his pint-sized body into paroxysms of distress. He sings like he’s just witnessed the napalming of a Rwandan orphanage rather than an upturned facial expression.

Bob Dylan this boy is not, but even more tragically, he may well look like him any time soon. So roll tape. — CH.

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