Skrillex and Diplo released a music video this morning for their first Top 20 single together, “Where Are Ü Now.” But the two musical co-producers, who sometimes go by the name Jack Ü, don’t make so much as a cameo in the video, which gives all the screen time to featured vocalist, Justin Bieber. In the video, Bieber is show against a backdrop of fan-made art as his skin gets transformed into a graffiti canvas. The video was filmed in Los Angeles and first premiered this morning on Good Morning America.
The collaboration between the respected DJ’s Skrillex and Diplo on one side, and the teenaged ray of Canadian sunshine Justin Beiber on the other, might strike some readers as unusual and unexpected. It is clear who contributed what elements to the creation of “Where are Ü Now.” For example, Diplo brought the melancholy flute hook which calls to mind some of his older work, circa 2005. Skrillex brought the beats. And Bieber stood there and got drawn on.
One particularly generous reviewer described the video as being about the “priceless value of the personal relationship that is forged between a fan and a pop star,” in which case it is appropriate that the video features Bieber fans doodling all over his picture. The video was shot during an event at Seventh Letter Gallery in Los Angeles, when attendees were invited to draw and paint on still frames of Bieber, pop icon of our era. The drawings were then photo-shopped together and animated over the clip. There are phone numbers and Twitter handles. There are a lot of “I love you Justin”s. There is at least one penis superimposed over Bieber’s crotch.
One commentator from the Verge noted that it is “perhaps a metaphor for what happens when you become a universally recognized public figure and the rest of the world’s interpretation of you is almost more real than your own personal experience.” Skrillex and Diplo have both been enthusiastically supportive of Bieber’s growth as an icon.
“Justin wrote this record during a tough time in his life,” the two musicians stated, “And it comes to us that sometimes, as artists, we are also just objects, and we have to accept that as much as we have to use that to create.” It is only regrettable that, in the video, Bieber’s girlish voice is overtaken by the doodles and scribbles.