Philosophy Phriday: Justin Bieber

What do mugshots, my ringtone and the cover of GQ have in common? All have at one point or another featured Justin Bieber. My opinion on this has proven to be quite contentious over the years, but I firmly believe that JB is one of the greatest musical genius of the modern era, if not of all time. Yes, he used to have weird hair and he broke Selena’s heart, but who here can say they have never made a mistake? I for one wore butterfly clips all through my hair for a solid 18 months in the late 1990s so I am certainly not one to judge (although I’ve never let that stop me).

In addition to being an exceptionally talented recording artist, Justin is also a promising philosopher. Anyone who has read his 2010 book First Steps 2 Forever: My Story (and if you haven’t then I don’t even know what to do with you) will attest that is insights on life in the 21st century are second to maybe only two or three. While it’s hard to choose just one of his smash hits to illustrate his philosophical prowess, you really can’t go past his collaboration with Sean Kingston, Eenie Meenie.

(Side note: just discovered Sean Kingston co-wrote Jason Derulo’s song, Watcha Say, aka the soundtrack to the best Gossip Girl scene of all time! What a legend.)

Eenie meenie miney mo

Catch a bad chick by her toe

If she holla (if, if, if she holla) let her go

To the untrained mind this is just a catchy rap intro to a fairly standard pop song, but what Justin is really doing here is to illustrate how choice paralysis infiltrates every aspect of our lives. Anyone who has ever stood in the muesli aisle of the supermarket for a full 10 minutes, unable to choose which brand of partially processed oats to push through their digestive system that week will be able to relate to this. This phenomenon is no less true for a young woman standing in a club trying to decide which skinny-jean wearing loser is likely to be the least douchy, as in the setting of this song.

She’s indecisive

She can’t decide

She keeps on lookin’

From left to right

So few artists go to the trouble of defining the words they use in their songs, often leaving their audience unable to fully grasp the meaning behind their lyrics. This is why I really appreciate JB. ‘She’s indecisive’, okay but what does that mean exactly? What deeper sense can I glean from these two simple words? Rather than leaving us in the dark, Justin goes right on to explain. It means she can’t decide. This is one of the reasons Justin is such an accessible artist: even someone with no philosophical training whatsoever can understand the greater meaning in his songs.

Let me show you what your missin’

Paradise

With me you’re winning girl

You don’t have to roll the dice

Now I can’t say I’ve gone so far as to roll a literal pair of dice to choose my weekly muesli, but I can certainly appreciate the sentiment here. Some weeks I really am looking from left to right – toasted, untoasted, apricot and peach, generic fruit, with yoghurt bits – how can a girl possibly choose? If only there were a risk-free option, a muesli guaranteed to provide the fuel I need first thing in the morning while also delighting my tastebuds. Well, thankfully for all of us, Justin Bieber is that risk-free option. He may not be a muesli per say, but with him you can be sure you are always winning.

I can also attest to the fact that any song from his extensive back catalogue will make an excellent ringtone.

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