Justin Bieber: “Yummy”

Was any other pop star’s decade in the spotlight as chaotic as Justin Bieber’s? Mop-bucket piss and police charges aside, he’s certainly the only heartthrob that the Obama administration formally dunked on when a White House petition to revoke his green card garnered over 273,000 signatures in 2014. Through all the turmoil, Bieber’s music became a more gainful way to shed his tween image: Adopting the Y2K handbook of cribbing elements from rap and R&B hits, he cooked up his own wildly successful whitebread version, with his share of peaks and flops throughout.

Please toss “Yummy,” Bieber’s first single since 2015’s Purpose, in with the flops. In the trailer for a docuseries about his upcoming fifth album, Bieber and his crew speak in platitudes that suggest he’s in a healthier, more creatively fulfilling place now that he’s “found his wife,” model Hailey Baldwin. If that’s so, “Yummy” makes a compelling case for staying single: Shamelessly engineered for the truncated attention span of TikTok (he joined the service just for the occasion), it’s a bloodless shell of an R&B song crippled by asinine lyrics and a tired, syncopated backdrop. The song plateaus as soon as it starts, never inching past the toddler-like repetition of “yummy-yum” in its chorus. The problem isn’t even that a 25-year-old is employing baby talk as a squicky come-on—that’s been done better. “Yummy” is a dead-on-arrival return that even Bieber sounds bored with.

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