In Praise of 'Baby' by Justin Bieber

More

Justin Bieber's song "Baby" was unavoidable in 2010, and for a good reason—it is the perfect pop song. It is perfect the way cheekbones picked out of a Madison Avenue cosmetic surgeon's binder are perfect, the way Ivy League lawns spray-painted green before alumni reunion weekends are perfect, the way the tangling of limbs and appendages in big-budget Hollywood sex scenes are perfect. That is to say, it is the kind of perfection we know is willed into existence by money and helped along by good lighting, a realization that matters little: when has reason ever dampened the sensuous appreciation of perfection?

The indisputably catchy song is just over three-and-a-half minutes long, and the word "baby" is repeated 56 times. That's a "baby" every 4.02 seconds, faster than the 0-to-60 time of a Porsche 911. Ludacris' uncharacteristically wholesome verse references "baby" only once, leaving him out-babied by a factor of 11,385 percent. Looked at another way: Luda has about one-sixth of the singing time on "Baby" but only one-fifty-fifth of the babies; when the song moves from Ludacris to Justin Bieber, we presence a more-than-statistically-significant 784 percent spike in babies if not swagger. This may not be the kind of industry math that wins Grammys--Bieber is nominated for two this year--but a posteriori statistical analysis has its place, helping adults rationalize their fondness for the catalogue of a performer whose fans mail him candy he cannot eat "cause my mom says it might be poisonous."

Bieber sings about Starbucks because it is the only beverage-as-status-marker he can legally consume. If his industry success continues post-puberty, we'll hear him graduate to Patrón and take "I'll buy you any ring" to "This ring here," a move in swagger he can learn from that other Justin, original survivor of teenage stardom's accompanying hair.

Jump to comments
Presented by

Karla Cornejo Villavicencio is a writer and translator based in New York City and Cambridge, MA.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

Why Did I Study Physics?

In this hand-drawn animation, a college graduate explains why she chose her major—and what it taught her about herself.


Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Why Did I Study Physics?

Using hand-drawn cartoons to explain an academic passion

Video

What If Emoji Lived Among Us?

A whimsical ad imagines what life would be like if emoji were real.

Video

Living Alone on a Sailboat

"If you think I'm a dirtbag, then you don't understand the lifestyle."

Video

How Is Social Media Changing Journalism?

How new platforms are transforming radio, TV, print, and digital

Video

The Place Where Silent Movies Sing

How an antique, wind-powered pipe organ brings films to life

Feature

The Future of Iced Coffee

Are artisan businesses like Blue Bottle doomed to fail when they go mainstream?

Writers

Up
Down

More in Entertainment

Just In