Pre-teen girls think pop singer Justin Bieber is a musical sensation. The rest of the world basically considers him to be one chipmunk-cheeked, tow-headed Internet meme. The latest: somebody found that if you slow down Bieber's song "U Smile" to an eighth of its original speed, it sounds awfully trippy. And more than a little bit mesmerizing.
More specifically, the stretched-out song, clocking in at 35 minutes and 29 seconds, sounds like the ambient soundtrack to an edgy indie film set either in outer space or underwater and helmed by a director who's high on magic mushrooms.
Fans of wacky Internet phenomena, well accustomed to Bieber's status as an in-joke, have gone absolutely nuts. So, of course, "Have you listened to it yet?" has become the Twitter question du jour, with skeptics speculating it's actually a hoax and that only a brave few have been willing to speed it up to prove that the result is a sugary Justin Bieber song.
One commenter on Internet meme hub BuzzFeed pointed out that the audio file was likely created with a piece of software called Paul Stretch. Another pointed to a slowed-down version of Rick Astley's "Never Gonna Give You Up"--the song that was reborn with the "Rickroll" Web fad--which sounds similarly bizarre (and yet is somehow still recognizable, and far less palatable than the lengthened Bieber).
Some commenters on BuzzFeed, as well as on audio hosting service SoundCloud where a user named "shamantis" uploaded the original file, pointed out that it sounds like it could have been the work of Icelandic experimental music act Sigur Ros. This led one SoundCloud user to point out, "Let's hope that Sigur Ros [sped] up 800 percent doesn't sound like Justin Bieber."