Inside Justin Bieber’s (slightly odd) album playback

Fun? Maybe. It’s certainly unusual.

Here’s one of the planet’s biggest pop stars, playing new music off a laptop and delivering a rambling, unscripted monologue before every song. Well, almost every song…

“Maybe we should skip this one?” he says as his DJ cues up Intentions, a bouncy duet with Quavo that came out last week.

“Everybody’s heard it already. They can go home and freakin’ Google it.”

It’s not that Bieber dislikes the song. In fact, he seems pretty pleased with his fifth album as a whole. It’s just that the set-up is uncomfortably awkward for everyone involved.

Bieber is situated in a DJ booth in the centre of a tiny club in central London. Fans, influencers, reviewers and record label staff surround him on every side; and he hasn’t quite figured out what to do with himself while the songs play.

Should he close his eyes and sing along? Should he dance? Should he study critics’ faces to gauge their reactions? Should he lock eyes with people and serenade them? Should he impersonate Borat?

The answer is, apparently, “Yes, all of the above”.

“I think she’s the only one that can put up with me, for real,” says the 25-year-old in Seasons. “This girl forgives me left and right. I’m a damn nightmare.”

His friend Ryan Good goes on to call Baldwin “an inspirational force in [Bieber’s] life”.

“It gives more depth to his performances when she’s in the studio,” he says. “Why do they work so well? I think she’s got a lot of patience.”

On Changes, Bieber spends 17 tracks expressing his unconditional love, even when it makes him sound exhausting to live with.

“I get frustrated when you’re busy,” he sings on Available. “Feeling less than a priority.”

On ETA he’s staring “out the window,” waiting for Baldwin’s car to drive up the street. On Come Around Me, he pleads with her to greet him “like you missed me – even though you’ve been with me.”

“The thought of being with my wife forever gives me chills,” he tells the audience in London. “This album is obviously dedicated to her and my love towards her.” (It’s no coincidence the record is being released on Valentine’s Day).

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