Last week I went to Unit 1 twice. As many of you will know, the DJ is the same each and every night, with a playlist of bangers geared for every vaguely different genre event one can go to over the course of a week. Unsurprisingly, considering the fact I went to the two most vanilla regular nights (some feat!), Monday and Thursday, I heard a lot of Bieber. What was interesting, wasn’t the discovery that I can’t replicate the video to Sorry no matter how hard I try (I have the first 45 seconds down but after that it really falls apart), but that on Monday Mr. B, or Will to his friends, seemed pretty pleased to be playing Justin; “I just can’t help but love him,” whilst on Thursday, he was far more reluctant, “I’m sorry but I’ve got to play this!”
Whilst I’m not the best person to explain the subtleties between what it is to be a Dirty Sexy Person and what it is to merely indulge in “Antics (Thursday)”, and how they may impact the DJ’s dialogue, and of course I accept Will probably thought the average crowd member would be far too gratuitously leathered and too infrequent a visitor to notice a difference, these changes suggest something endemic to Bieber’s current assault on the iTunes Top 25. In just four days Will went from loving to hating, and in just four weeks have we gone from hating Bieber to loving him to starting to hate him again?
I hope not, because frankly, Purpose is a strong pop-album, and What Do You Mean? still gets me gassed when it comes on my Spotify Shuffle. Fortunately, Justin looks to stem this worrying tide of opinion and retain a few shreds of credibility as the culmination of the X-Factor has given him a brief respite from occupying the Number 1 spot, if only for a week at the very least. Louisa Johnson, 17, with a cover of Bob Dylan’s Forever Young rules the roost on Monday Morning, a cover that will surely jostle in the sea of mediocrity with other such memorable efforts by equally memorable artists such as Catt Mardle, John McElderberry and the one who won instead of Olly Murs, to name but a few. The song itself is a great example of what happens when you put too many atmospheric layers into one track and thus inadvertently flush out any sense of meaning or reason whatsoever, leaving the listener with a bloated husk of the original. I suppose the gospel choir backing about two minutes in is nice, whilst the beginning displays Louisa has a good voice, although it sounds more like the national anthem at the beginning of an England game than anything that should be anywhere near the top of the charts.
There really isn’t much to say about it – if you’ve heard one X-Factor winner song, or indeed any good voice solo in any genre, you’ve heard pretty much all Forever Young has to offer. Still, I’m really enjoying our collective existence in this parallel universe in which Bieber is a credible artist, and hopefully when we erect a marble Justin on the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square we’ll look back on Forever Young as an integral rupture that allowed us to continue to appreciate the fresh-faced Canadian rather than turn against him. Here’s hoping next week business resumes as usual.