Monday 23 April 2018

Niall Byrne: Slow down, Bieber

The internet just can't get enough of pop star Justin Bieber at the moment
The internet just can't get enough of pop star Justin Bieber at the moment

Niall Byrne

The web loves Justin Bieber. He's the diminutive Canadian 16-year-old pop star who keeps on giving. Already this year, Bieber has been the subject of a pesky message board 4Chan plan to get him sent to North Korea and his antics have filled up internet tubes consistently.

Recent highlights include a YouTube video of him escaping fans on a Segway scooter (, footage of him walking into glass twice, tweeting the phone number of a hacker to his 4.5 million followers and bonding over Raekwon with Kanye on Twitter (, which now looks to be leading to a collaboration between the trio.

Even a former pop star, Mark Wahlberg, remarked: "The world needs Justin Bieber. Justin Bieber is like a white Tupac compared to a lot of people out there."

The latest Bieber sensation may be the best yet. A song appeared on the web last week which was Bieber's hit U Smile slowed down by 800pc ( As a result of the slowing down, the song is now over 35 minutes long and is closer to the sound of Sigur Ros jamming with whales in a cold icy ocean.

While the original is a potent and saccharine paean to a girl's, eh, smile, the slowed down version is a meandering barrage of crashing notes, ambient chord drones, stretched-out reverb-heavy vocals and lulls.

It's a surprisingly beautiful calming piece of music that has more in common with Icelandic composer Johann Johannsson. It's epic in feeling as well as in length. In fact, it's the musical equivalent of the time-stretching effect in Inception.

There were doubts that the track was legitimate, with many wondering whether this was another 4Chan prank, but you can speed the file back up yourself and hear it in its original form (

The track is attributed to Shamantis, an ambient artist from Tampa, Florida, who did it for fun and who has since claimed, after 1.65 million plays, that he's been offered some record label deals.

It didn't take any special skill. Using a free open-source program called PaulStretch (, anyone can do it and many have.

While myopic websites have called it a new genre (eh, it's not), the track has kicked off a minor revolution in DIY remixing with songs such as the rickroll original Rick Astley's Never Gonna Give You Up, Miley Cyrus's Party In The USA and Wham's Wake Me Up Before You Go Go getting the same treatment.

However, that's not the only Bieber-related audio splurge which happened recently. Back in July, dystopian brooklyn rapper El-P joked on Twitter he would remix a Bieber song if someone sent him an a cappella.

The resulting joke track featured Paul McCartney's Live and Let Die spliced with Bieber warblings ( It was awful, but that was the point. The 800pc slowed down Bieber track is closer to an ambient masterpiece. Stick it on next time you need to relax.

Irish Independent

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