For anyone wondering what Justin Bieber's next moves might be after teen idoldom and a few years of misanthropy, the single and video for "Where Are U Now?" with Diplo and Skrillex point to an unexpected direction.
The song is a tasteful, emotional slow burn from three artists (here, credited as Jack U, Diplo and Skrillex's side project) better known for high-octane crowd pleasing or tabloid antics.
The trio just released a similarly resonant new video for the single, which is comprised largely of fan-generated art taken from sessions at a Los Angeles gallery.
Directed by the avant-garde video team Brewer, the clip animates stills drawn by fans at the Seventh Letter gallery in L.A. The video is a bit acid-fried and melancholy and puts Bieber's alienation in a new and — dare we say — sympathetic light?
Diplo and Skrillex released a statement about the song and the video's genesis to explain their process.
"We are being overwhelmed, in a good way, by the success of "Where Are Ü Now" with Justin Bieber, so with the video we wanted to just take it back to the beginning of the record & essentially create an ode to our fans," they said.
"Doing what we do, it's entirely all about the fans. We walk a fine line by being 'famous' and in the public eye but we are only here because of you, the fans. Justin wrote this record during a tough time in his life and it comes to us that sometimes, as artists, we are also just objects and we have to take that as much as we have to use that to create. We all do this for you, respect that you put us here and it's Ü that made the video."
If the song didn't deliver, it might have come across as cloying. But given the single's quality and sincerity, and the video's illuminating new context, it feels like a genuine plea for fans to reconsider all their old assumptions about each artist involved.
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