A Brief History of Indie Musicians’ Infatuation With Justin Bieber

As we reported yesterday, the Elite Gymnastics dude recorded a rather lovely cover of Justin Bieber’s “Beauty and a Beat” (in a sort of medley with Taylor Swift’s “Ours”) for Grimes’s birthday. It’s the second Bieber-centric track to drop from an indie luminary in as many weeks; last week saw The Mountain Goats’ John Darnielle penning a plea for the paparazzi to leave Justin alone, damn it. The world of non-pop music has had a curious love/hate relationship with Bieber over the years — for all that “serious” fans and YouTube commenters seem to loathe him, their heroes are often more partial to the young man.

John Darnielle — “Short Song for Justin Bieber’s Paparazzi”

In which the ever-erudite and sensible Mountain Goats main man has some wise words for the paparazzi (and, indeed, for the world in general): “You don’t have to leave Justin alone/ But try not to be an asshole.” Words to live by, really.

Aziz Ansari — “Raaaaaaaandy Declares War on Justin Bieber”

Did Justin Bieber steal his biggest hit from Raaaaaaaandy? Well, no, but the sight of watching David Sitek and Nick Zinner crank out a version of “Baby” with Aziz Ansari on vocals is pretty hilarious (as is the sight of him apparently shooting Ansari in the knee). Who’d have thought he had it in him? Don’t fuck with the Bieb!

Kitty Pryde — “Justin Bieber”

What better subject for Kitty Pryde’s teenage-girl schtick than the object of every teenage girl’s unquenchable lust? Pryde’s voice and entire persona are… polarizing, shall we say, but if you fall into the camp where listening to her music doesn’t evoke some crawling visceral loathing, then hey, this is great!

Shamantis — “U Smile 800% Slower”

This became quite the internet phenomenon when it was released a couple of years back — producer Shamantis got hold of Bieber’s “U Smile” and ran it through Paul’s Extreme Sound Stretch, and the result came out sounding an awful lot like Julianna Barwick. Like, terrifyingly so. Who’d have thought it?

James Franco — “Boyfriend”

And finally, yes, of course, James Franco did a Justin Bieber cover. The more apposite question is why we ever thought that James Franco wouldn’t have done a Justin Bieber cover. We look forward to his PhD dissertation about Justin Bieber and postmodernism and zzzzzzzzzzz.