Music Video Relapse: "Beauty And A Beat" (2012) by Justin Bieber

Posted by Adam Fairholm on December 30, 2013 in Music Video Relapse

Staff Post


Over the holiday break I heard a lot about Justin Bieber, and none of it was particularly good press. He had a film opening on Christmas Day that didn't do as well as some had expected, and everyone thought he was retiring from music because, well, he told people he was retiring from music. Taken with most of the news about him in 2013, he ended the year on a pretty good note - but it was still a rocky year for Mr. Bieber.

2013 has been a year of Bieber stories that had nothing to do with his music or his music videos, so let's take a short trip back to probably his last big video release - 2012's "Beauty And A Beat" ft. Nicki Minaj, directed by Bieber himself and Jon Chu.

You may remember the release of this video - it was a "viral" marketing campaign that centered on Justin Bieber getting his laptop stolen, which we were told had some footage on it that was going to be released online by the malicious thief (who was also taunting Bieber on Twitter). It was a relatively elaborate online ploy, complete with Bieber and the laptop stealer going back and forth on Twitter. Actually, maybe the laptop was stolen after all. It sounds complicated.

I'm sort of ashamed to say that up until maybe the day before the video release, I bought into the story, and I wasn't alone. It was a pretty well-concocted tale that played into both the media attention around Bieber, and the tendency of people to want to see him fail for one reason or another. Whether or not tricking people into thinking your laptop was stolen is a good way to get them to like you is a topic for a different blog post.

The video itself plays into this concept of the stolen laptop by ostensibly being the stolen footage itself. Shot on a GoPro Hero 3, it is made to look like Bieber shot it himself as a selfie, and takes place at one cool pool party featuring cool teenagers doing cool things. (If you have to ask if you are young and cool enough to be in this video, you aren't.)

Most of it is choreographed, especially the section around Nicki Minaj, who has a verse that sometimes just consists of her saying "Justin Bieber," but some of the video seems pretty off the cuff. They also do some fun things with the GoPro, like send Bieber down a water slide with it.

I think this is one of the more successful videos in Bieber's videography, and not just because of the creative way in which it was introduced. It may be just an illusion, but it definitely seems to be something that is less self-consciously styled than most of his other visual output, and you can tell Bieber is definitely having fun. It is also a video was produced in the 2012 period as he was just breaking out of his early "Bieber haircut" days and trying some interesting things. Nicki Minaj is a fun addition as she is not styled as anything remotely close to appropriate for a pool party.

Adam Fairholm is the co-founder and lead developer of IMVDb. You can find him on twitter at @adamfairholm.

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