Music

Justin Bieber – "What Do You Mean" (video) (Singles Going Steady)

Justin Bieber's "What Do You Mean?" somehow lives up to the hype of its who's-who celebrity promotion.

Steve Horowitz: Justin has got him self a nice little pop song here. If one doesn’t listen too carefully, the carefree spirit takes the listener on a joy ride. The narrator wants to be wanted, but then again, he’s not sure. He likes the game of the relationship, the push and pull of attraction. The Brad Furman video nicely captures the ambiguity well and carefully pulls back before ever getting too serious. The roll of cash, the cigarette lighter, the scary masks set the atmosphere without taking things too far. It may be a little dumb, but that fits the lightness of the material. [8/10]

Adrien Begrand: Everything about this annoying singer's "comeback" is so manufactured: the calculated "silence", the return on the MVAs, the crocodile tears (note how no one in the crowd seemed to care), his sad goth haircut, his earnest, longing stares at the camera in this overwrought new video. Musically his androgyny works very well on this track -- even at 21 there's a femininity to his voice that can work wonders given the right production -- but oh my goodness, what an egotistical, steaming pile of shit this video is. [2/10]

Brian Duricy: In the ongoing love affair between springy EDM beats and pop radio, Justin Bieber's "What Do You Mean?" somehow lives up to the hype of its who's-who celebrity promotion. While it might not win over all Bieber doubters, the maturing style of his Timberlake-esque foray into R&B vocals sound fresh and summery for a song destined to remain in rotation until 2016. [7/10]

Colin McGuire: You know, this isn't half-bad. It can hardly stand on its own whenever the piano takes center stage, but the processed tribal bleeps and blurps that surely come from some type of Protools-endorsed iPhone application vaguely recall a weird, late '80s/early '90s side of Robbie Robertson's solo stuff that goes forgotten. And that counts for something, right? Either way, this clearly veers into Omi's "Cheerleader" land every now and then, especially when the music fills in the gaps on the chorus, and Bieber wears it well. He's an easy guy to hate -- and this video is an easy clip to roll your eyes at -- but this song sure beats the hell out of "Boyfriend" with its interesting(er) layout. And hey: he's beginning to look less like Kate McKinnon a little more each day, what with those tattoos and Lee Pace eyebrows shining through here. All told, it could be worse. And because it's not, "What Do You Mean?" probably sounds just a little bit better than it should. [5/10]

The Cigarette: A Political History (By the Book)

Sarah Milov's The Cigarette restores politics to its rightful place in the tale of tobacco's rise and fall, illustrating America's continuing battles over corporate influence, individual responsibility, collective choice, and the scope of governmental power. Enjoy this excerpt from Chapter 5. "Inventing the Nonsmoker".

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