February 23, 2020
Todd plays "Yummy" on the piano.
JUSTIN BIEBER - YUMMY
A pop song review
Todd: [beat] Do we need Justin Bieber?
Clip of Justin Bieber - "Yummy"
Justin Bieber: Yeah babe, yeah babe, yeah babeTodd (VO): That's the question that's really nagged at me since I first heard the new song "Yummy" by [image of...] SNL star Pete Davidson. Or...
Todd (VO): ...excuse me, Bieber. Justin Bieber's what I meant.
Todd (VO): Now I say "new", it's new-ish, it's only about a month old, which is fairly recent for one of my reviews but, despite its high debut it [image of Billboard Hot 100, showing "Yummy" at number 19] fell pretty quickly, making this not so much a review as a postmortem.
Todd: If it at least debuted at #1, [screenshot of headline: "Selena Gomez Scores First No. 1 on Billboard Hot 100 with 'Lose You to Love Me'"] as his ex-girlfriend did with her recent mediocre song, he could at least claim some kind of success from this...
TikTok video of girls dancing to "The Box" by Roddy Ricch, with New York Times headline "Roddy Ricch Bests Justin Bieber, Landing a No. 1 Single and Album" laid over topTodd (VO): ...but it was kept off the top spot by some song that's popular on TikTok. [clip of "Old Town Road" along with shot of article: "'Old Town Road' proves TikTok can launch a hit song"] History repeating itself?
Todd: We'll check in 5 months from now.
Video for "Yummy"Todd (VO): Now technically the Bieber song is not dead, it's hanging in there. [montage of TikTok videos featuring "Yummy", including Bieber miming to the song] Largely because Bieber has also taken to TikTok to aggressively promote it, trying to astroturf it into a viral hit. [image featuring instructions to buy and stream the song multiple times] Worse than that, he's posted messages to his fans with detailed instructions about how to commit streaming fraud to try and get the numbers up. It's working, apparently, but it's also given it the stink of desperation. The song is bad, in a way that puts an irrevocable stain on your image, and Bieber does not need any more of those.
Todd: In fact, what it reminds me of, I mean let’s roll back about three years,
Clip of Reputation Stadium Tour Trailer
Todd (VO): Cause that's when a truly stunning series of events happened. [clip of Katy Perry and Justin Timberlake live performances] Within about a six month period, we saw the release of [album covers of...] Katy Perry’s Witness, Taylor Swift’s Reputation, and Justin Timberlake’s Man of the Woods.
Todd: Witness, Reputation, Man of the Woods.
Montage clips of Justin Timberlake - “Filthy”; Taylor Swift - “Look What You Made Me Do”; Katy Perry ft. Nicki Minaj - “Swish Swish” followed by a clip of the “Bon Appétit” SNL performance
Todd (VO): Three of the biggest stars in music just completely tanking their images with bizarre misconceived albums that attempted to chart a new course and failed miserably. [screenshot of New York Post article “Taylor Swift’s ‘Reputation’ tour shaping up to be a disaster”] Taylor took a ton of critical damage from it, [images of...] and Katy and Timberlake we might never see again. [clip of “Yummy”] I saw more than one person compare Bieber’s new song to Man of the Woods, but it kinda reminds me of all three of them.
Todd: Bieber is somehow making all three disasters in one.
Video for “Yummy”
Todd (VO): I guess I should go into detail here, so why don’t we skip the appetizers and just get to the main course. This is Justin Bieber’s new single, it’s called “Yummy”.
Todd: What is wrong with it?
Justin: Yeah, you got that yummy yum, that yummy yum, that yummy yummy
[Todd is taken aback] Yeah, you got that yummy yum, that yummy yum, that yummy yummy
Say the word, on my wayTodd (VO): If I can say one nice thing about this song...
Todd: ...I like that it doesn't lead you on.
Todd (VO): Like, we were all expecting the worst, right?
Justin: Yeah, you got that yummy...Todd (VO): And 3 seconds in, it immediately confirms it. No long intros, no verse, no waiting for the hook. We could have been sitting there in dread for upwards of 2 minutes, but Justin ripped off the band-aid right away.
Todd: Then again, was there ever any doubt that it was gonna be bad? It... It-it's called [shot of video thumbnail] "Yummy". That's a bad title for a s... no, it's not even a bad title, it's a bad word!
Todd (VO): Unless you're a three-year-old telling your mom [image of toddler eating spaghetti-o's] how much you like your spaghetti-o's, [image of book cover for Yummy! What & Why?] the word "yummy" should not leave your mouth.
Todd: Leave it in the garbage with [image of lips with text saying...] "moist" and [image of a pregnant woman modelling a shirt that says...] "preggers" and other inherently disgusting words.
Todd (VO): In fact, it might be one of those cursed words.
Todd: You know, like, no song could be good with it in the lyrics.
Live clip of Gwen Stefani - "Yummy"
Gwen: I'm feelin' yummy head to toe
You see meTodd (VO): It's a strong theory.
Todd: I could only find one other song like that that actually charted, from way back in the late '60s.
Clip of Ohio Express - "Yummy Yummy Yummy"
Joey Levine: Yummy, yummy, yummy, I got love in my tummy
And I feel like-a lovin' youTodd: [beat] I'm gonna vomit.
Todd (VO): I-I realise they were doing a lot of acid at the time, but there's no excuse for "yummy, yummy, yummy, I've got love in my tummy". It's the most repulsive way to use that word.
Todd: Or at least that's what I thought, until the...
Clip of "Yummy"Todd (VO): ...year of our Lord 2020, when international pop superstar Justin Bieber decided to...
Todd: ...turn the word "yummy" into a fucking noun!
Justin: You got the yum yum yum yumTodd (VO): Ugggh. Why is that word so much worse with a "the" in front of it?
Todd: In-in fact, let me check something. "Girl, you got the moist." UGGH! UGGGH! Okay, gross adjectives are even worse as gross nouns, confirmed. Ugh.
Todd (VO): Okay, this is where it reminds me of [clip of "Chained to the Rhythm" by...] Katy Perry's Witness. The first single underperformed, but...
Clip of...Todd (VO): ...it was the second song "Bon Appétit" that really sunk it.
Katy: Got me spread like a buffet
Bon a, bon appétit, babyTodd (VO): Tons upon tons of [cover art for "Milkshake" by Kelis] songs, and [shot of poem "This Is Just To Say" by William Carlos Williams] poems, and [image of t-shirt saying "LOOKIN' LIKE A SNACK"] ordinary phrases connect food and sex. The thing is when done wrong, both of those things are the [images of spaghetti-o sandwich and Barney Gumble in a bikini] most disgusting things in the universe.
Todd: So when you get them both wrong, it's double disgusting.
Todd (VO): I don't wanna literally eat Katy Perry and I don't wanna fuck a roast turkey. No one's turned on by carrots and onions and garlic powder!
Todd: If anything, the "Yummy" video's even worse.
Clip of "Yummy"Todd (VO): You'd think it'd have a bunch of attractive people doing sexy things perhaps related to some kind of sexy food, but it's a bunch of old people eating just the worst looking meals, some of which barely resemble food at all!
Justin: Rollin' eyes back in my head, make my toes curl, yeah, yeahTodd: What this video makes me think of is nothing less than the [clip of...] Mr Creosote scene from Monty Python['s The Meaning of Life].
Justin: Yeah babe, yeah babe, yeah babe
Any [clip of Mr Creostote throwing up] night, any day
Say the word, on my wayTodd: And to be clear, it's one thing when Katy Perry does it.
Clip of "Bon Appétit"Todd (VO): Gaudiness is her brand. It's what she does, I at least get the attempt.
Todd: But Bieber's never made a video like this. [clip of "Boyfriend"] A Justin Bieber video has attractive people dancing in it, it's not hard. So, in that regard, this video more reminds me of Justin Timberlake's Man of the Woods.
Clip of "Filthy"
Justin Timberlake: ...your filthy hands all over meTodd (VO): Because they both made me ask [brief clip of "Yummy"] the same question.
Todd: Didn't you used to be cool?!
Clip of "SexyBack" by Justin TimberlakeTodd (VO): Weren't you the guy who brought sexy back after a long-dormant period for sexiness? [clip of Timberlake's Super Bowl Halftime performance] How did you become a guy who shows up at the biggest entertainment event in the country dressed in a camo sport jacket and elk shirt, Justin? [clip of "Yummy"] And you, other Justin, why is your adult R&B bedroom jam being sold with fish ice cream? What happened to the both of you? What happened to your sense of good taste, or just basic logic? [clip of...] Why would you give a song called "Filthy" such a clean, sterile video?
Clip of...Why is a video for "Yummy" so unappetising?
Justin: (flexin' on me) Yeah you got that yummy yum [Justin's chin gets distorted] Yeah-heahTodd: Ah!
Justin: Flexin' on me [clip of his chin growing larger replays in slo-mo]Todd (VO): What was that? [clip of Pee-wee's Big Adventure] You about to turn into Large Marge?
Todd: What is this video?!
Todd (VO): Naw, this song and video was a total disaster, but to really understand how this all went wrong, we need to back up.
Todd: Like, I'm not sure the song itself is really that bad.
Todd (VO): The beat's decent, the melody's fine, there aren't really any other objectionable lyrics.
Todd: The only real problem with it is that it's called "Yummy", and the chorus is "girl you got that yummy yummy".
Todd (VO): It's like a perfectly [image of essay] competent, well-written essay about [portrait of...] how Robert E. Lee fought for [US flag superimposed on top-right of the screen] the North.
Todd: Except for being based off a blatantly stupid idea, it's fine. [same image of essay with F on it] You'll still get an F, but change a couple words, you're probably good.
Todd (VO): But this song prompted such disgust [shot of article: "Twitter users are dragging Justin Bieber for 'Yummy' lyrics] and schadenfreude from people, and I think something wronger is going on. One bad song doesn't generally give me career-ender vibes, but this one does, and I'm not sure why.
Todd: Is it the over-promotion?
Todd (VO): Him trying to astroturf the song to success on TikTok, it did look desperate, but [TikTok video of Justin miming to "Yummy"] if he had been promoting a good song, no one would say anything.
Todd: I also saw one person argue that [shot of article: 'Justin Bieber's New Album Rollout Already Lacks One Crucial Element Of His 'Purpose' Promotion] he's missing the redemption narrative he had on his last album, you know, [clip of "What Do You Mean?"] that without the big comeback from his [news footage of Bieber's mugshot and him in court] public breakdown years, he's missing something. I don't agree with that either.
Clip of "What Do You Mean?"Todd (VO): Comebacks are really difficult. I think he's in a much better position coming into this album cycle than the last.
Todd: So, I'm coming around to a broader explanation. Maybe Justin Bieber is just a bad artist.
Clip of "One Time"
Justin: Ay, ayTodd (VO): Okay, yes, 10 years ago, saying "Justin Bieber sucks" would not exactly be a groundbreaking take. [image of Bieber with text saying "21 Reasons To Hate Justin Bieber"] He was the most hated human being on Earth. And there was just a really nasty undercurrent to it, just...
Todd: ...smarter critics than me have pointed out that only things teenage girls like get that kind of hate.
Clip of "One Less Lonely Girl"Todd (VO): And I think there was kind of a backlash to the backlash for that reason. [text appears on screen: (frontlash?)] At least some critics started cutting him some slack. Honestly, I think maybe too much.
Todd: Personally, I think I like enough things that teenage girls like where I can say that yes, he actually did suck, really really hard.
Todd (VO): His songs were child-star chipper and he personally came off as just the most unlikeable, self-impressed little shit.
Todd: But I hear you saying "well...
Clip of "Boyfriend"Todd (VO): ...that was a long time ago, he's gotten better, he's made some good songs."
Todd: Yeah, he's made songs I like too. But he's never made anything I love.
The more I look back, the more I realize I have no idea what he offers as an artist or what his persona is. What does he do that we couldn't get from someone else?
My problem with Bieber is that as a performer, he's a blank canvas. He may have a pretty voice, but he is terrible at projecting emotion. I look at his best songs: "What Do You Mean?", "Sorry", even "Baby". All of them are basically All of them are basically about him being emotionally clueless and out of his depth. It turns his blankness into an advantage, and it's probably close to who he is in real life. It works, and I'm guessing that "dumb guy who doesn't know how to do anything but look pretty" is not how he wants to be seen.
So rather than leaning into existential confusion, which y'know, that'd at least be more interesting, he decided to jump into the genre where the most important element is emotional projection.
Closing Tag Song:
"Yummy" is owned by Def Jam Records
This video is owned by me
THANK YOU TO THE LOYAL PATRONS!