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Whether he sang it or not, Justin Bieber sure can sell it

An experimental version of Justin Bieber's song "U Smile" has become a smash online. But where did the song really come from?
An experimental version of Justin Bieber's song "U Smile" has become a smash online. But where did the song really come from?
  • Remix of Justin Bieber's "U Smile" has more than 1.6 million plays on
  • Producer Nick Pittsinger says he slowed down the song 800 percent
  • MTV disagrees, saying the song is actually an untitled song from the Photon Wave Orchestra
  • Justin Bieber
  • Music
  • YouTube Inc.

Editor's Note: Damon Brown is a Northern California-based freelance writer and author of books including "Damon Brown's Simple Guide to the iPad" and "Porn & Pong: How 'Grand Theft Auto,' 'Tomb Raider' and Other Sexy Games Changed Our Culture."

(CNN) -- Pop heartthrob Justin Bieber may be the perfect Trojan horse for a meme.

Teeny-bopper singers are usually viewed as empty vessels meant to fill the marketing needs of cynical record executives. But as a child growing famous in the digital-remix age, Biebz seems more than that: The 16-year-old is like a white screen on which our trends can be projected.

For a case in point, listen to the enigmatic "U Smile 800% Slower," which has become a sensation on the web.

"U Smile," the second single from Bieber's new album, was slowed down 800 percent and uploaded to the web by Nick Pittsinger, a 20-year-old aspiring music producer in Florida. The song's trippy atmospherics have attracted more than 1.6 million plays online.

Assuming you don't have 35 minutes to spare -- remember, it's eight times as long as the original four-minute pop song -- "U Smile 800% Slower" turns the high-pitched bleats of the pubescent signer into primal howls and cries that seem to linger forever.

Imagine the mating calls of killer whales being vibrated through a Roman cathedral. The song is reminiscent of late '90s work from Icelandic artists Sigur Ros and Bjork, as Bieber's voice is both heavily deconstructed and eerily intimate.

Compare this with the original "U Smile," which sounds much less memorable.

However, there is a twist. MTV News suggests the Justin Bieber "remix" may not be a slowed-down version of "U Smile," but an untitled song from the Milwaukee collective Photon Wave Orchestra's 2010 EP "Echoes Across the Astral Wasteland."

That said, MTV isn't sure if Photon Wave Orchestra really even exists since the EP was released on April 1, 2010 -- April Fool's Day.

The question is, does it really matter? Whether it's the latest malware or sexually ambiguous haircut, Justin Bieber's blank-slate pop image is the perfect selling tool for anything.

"U Smile 800% Slowed" wouldn't have all those listeners without its connection -- real or not -- to Bieber fever. His album, "My World 2.0," couldn't be more appropriately titled.

The opinions expressed in this blog post are solely those of Damon Brown.


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