The young married couple is out for a walk in the early morning hours, and with 2020 about to draw to a close, their thoughts turn to the coming year.
“Do you have any intention for 2021?” asks the wife.
“My intention for 2021 is to continue to set goals and have fun while doing them,” replies the husband. “Make sure I put my family first. And hopefully, we squeeze out a nugget.”
Sweet. Normal. Young. They sound like an average millennial couple, and in their intimate and private moments perhaps they are — but in this case we’re talking about Justin Bieber and Hailey Baldwin. And the little snippet of video blog we’re watching is featured in the Amazon Prime Video film “Justin Bieber: Our World,” which chronicles the days and weeks leading up to Bieber’s 2020 New Year’s Eve show from the roof of the Beverly Hilton Hotel and features the occasional “private” moment between Justin and Hailey. Mostly, though, this a concert film, with Bieber playing to a COVID-limited crowd of just 240 people who watched from their room balconies at the hotel, while the rest of the world was afforded the opportunity to catch the event via livestream.
Now this might come as a shock to you, but I don’t count myself as among the ranks of the “Beliebers,” i.e., the legions of fans who adore the pop singer who first burst onto the scene as an adolescent YouTuber, was singing with Usher by the time he was 13, has become one of the biggest stars in the world and at 27 seems to have emerged from a series of embarrassing incidents and some rotten behavior as a better person. To be sure, this is a tightly controlled production, but Bieber comes across as likable. (He sure has a lot of loyal employees and collaborators who have been with him for a decade or more.)
“Justin Bieber: Our World” is a well-photographed and sleek film showcasing performances of infectious hits such as “Second Emotion,” “Boyfriend,” “Love Yourself” and “What Do You Mean?” as Bieber commands the stage with an easy grace, demonstrates a strong tenor voice and is backed by a tight band and some sensational dancers. One imagines his vast fan base will find this to be an immensely satisfying viewing experience.
“Our World” is also a living record of the process of mounting a one-off concert during the pandemic. Everyone involved with the production has to take tests at least once a day, and one key member of the team has to be quarantined for 14 days after testing positive. Meanwhile, the construction crew spends months engineering the weight load for the roof of the 65-year-old hotel, lest the whole thing literally come crashing down. On the night of the show, the rush of traffic from virtual fans crashes the site, and the concert has to be delayed while teams of publicists and handlers and techies try to figure out what’s happening with analytics, while the Biebs grows restless in his trailer.
Eventually, though, it’s showtime, and Justin Bieber raises the roof, so to speak. Earlier that morning, we hear Bieber saying, “Thank you God for this day, for this life.” One hopes this artist (who is admittedly talented and has worked hard) isn’t just paying lip service and is truly grateful for the life he’s been given. It’s pretty ridiculous.