If you don’t follow me on Twitter, you may be unaware that I’ve been pretty obsessed with Ed Sheeran and Justin Bieber’s romantic new song, “I Don’t Care.” The song tells the story of “a party we don’t want to be at,” but reassures the listeners that it’s okay “when I’m with my baby.”
There is absolutely no way that someone sat down and listened to this song, in which the lyrics never make it clear that the two men singing the song aren’t lobbing cute lines like, “Tryna talk, but we can’t hear ourselves/Read your lips, I’d rather kiss ’em right back” and “‘Cause I don’t care as long as you just hold me near/You can take me anywhere/And you’re making me feel like I’m loved by somebody” to each other instead of some unnamed woman in the song.
“But Jenny,” you might be thinking, “Just because a woman isn’t explicitly mentioned doesn’t mean that they’re not singing about women.” Which is true…about any other artists. Both Bieber and Sheeran write music that is aggressively heterosexual, dropping “girl” liberally, almost as if assuring everyone that, no, definitely the person I am singing about is a woman. Sure, not every single song tosses in feminine pronouns or descriptions of long hair and dresses, but most songs in their catalogs make it clear that they are straight, straight, straight men who love the ladies.
Not this song, friends.
Not this one.
And it is glorious.
But I’m not here today to prove the queerness of the song to you. No. I am here to discuss the absolutely bonkers video that accompanies it.
Click the jump to step into a world of bizarre pleasure you never dreamed existed.
We begin with a fairly normal scene of a miserable Ed looking uncomfortable in a suit in a fancy restaurant:
Which is totally on brand for Ed Sheeran. Looking uncomfortable seems to be his default mode. But it’s weird that he’s badly green-screened into the image, right?
Not…not as weird as it’s going to get, folks…
Believe it or not, this is still par for the course with Ed Sheeran. If you’re not familiar with his videos beyond the panty-incinerating dance sequence in “Thinking Out Loud,” you are likely unaware that sumo suits, muppets getting vehicular blowjobs, and balloon people are conventions to which his fans have become more or less desensitized. I mean…
This still absolutely tracks. My eyebrows did not lift once.
Okay. I get it. I value comfort…but the socks are what kill me. Why are they pulled up so high? The panda suit, okay. The socks, though, man.
The good news is, they go perfectly with the “neighborhood dad who wants everyone to know that he’s down with the new slang” beach outfit…
…that Ed wears to this pool party populated by…
I mean, at this point, this is what we’re getting, right? It’s quirky, it’s fun, it’s–
JESUS CHRIST OUR LORD AND SAVIOR GOD MARY AND ALL THE SAINTS WHAT IS THAT?
We cut to Ed in the kicky tracksuit your grandma wears at the retirement village in Punta Gorda when she’s feeling particularly sassy on her morning powerwalk with the girls. My guess is that he’s running away from the Corn Bieber, but we really can’t tell with Miserable Panda Ed frowning in the foreground:
This video is full of quick cuts. It’s almost too much. The only thing I can compare it to is that sequence in The Worst Witch when Tim Curry shows up and starts singing about Halloween while absolutely every object you’ve ever seen is represented in some form but less than half of them have anything to do with Halloween. I’m not even a minute into this video and my eyes already hurt and I’ve forgotten what the sky looks like.
I wonder if the woman in this shot knows what’s going to happen in the final cut. I struggle to imagine that there was any sort of storyboard involved in the planning of this video. I struggle to imagine that they actually rented this panda suit and it’s not just something Ed owns.
I need to stop at this point and explain that I’m really only pulling out the most bizarre bits here. So far, I’ve skipped over three Eds singing in front of a backdrop of balloons, Miserable Panda Ed hanging out poolside, and a sexy tennis playing woman with an animated cat’s head practicing her serve. That’s the scene that is interrupted by an even worse greenscreen job of a shirtless Justin Bieber gliding in on an MS Paint generated magic carpet:
Okay, I said I was only picking out the “most bizarre bits,” but I have to be honest, I really can’t tell what is and isn’t strange about this video anymore. When mere seconds later, Cat-Head Tennis Lady is replaced by Bieber with an animated panda face swinging a racket while a cheerful hippopotamus mascot dances behind him, nothing about it strikes me as particularly strange. This is reality, now.
The lyrics that precede Ed’s tiny head poking out of a banana costume superimposed over some else’s much larger body on a jet ski are, “you can take me anywhere.” I would argue that this entire video is proof that you probably can’t take Ed or Justin anywhere.
After we see Miserable Panda Ed floating through the cold, endless void of space in an astronaut suit that quickly becomes what could have been a late-eighties MTV promo, we zoom out to reveal that scene is the backdrop for a wholly different hippopotamus mascot to dance in front of:
I imagine the conversation went something like this:
Record Executive: Gentlemen, you know we support this record. It’s going to be the hit of the summer and we stand behind you 110%. But the mascot costume budget you’re asking for…is it possible at all to cut back?
Sheeran: [angrily, slamming his fist on the table] This is horseshit!
Record Executive: We’re not axing the mascots entirely. But look here: “One hippopotamus suit, blue. One hippopotamus suit, pink.” Maybe we could pick one color of the hippopotamus suit and use it for both scenes?
Bieber: Look at me. Look me in the eye right now. If we don’t get that pink hippo suit, I walk. Do you hear me?
Sheeran: He’ll do it, man.
Bieber: Oh, I’ll totally fucking do it. I’m out the door right now. My artistic vision will not be compromised!
Sheeran: You know what? Fine. I’ll just bring one of my hippopotamus costumes from home.
As much as I would love to believe that it’s either Sheeran or Bieber in that costume, I would also love with my whole heart if it was a struggling young actor who not only auditioned for this gig but will also put it on his resume. “Mom? I got the job.”
So, this is where the video does absolutely nothing to assert the heterosexuality of the song. While superimposed on those loungers, Bieber sings, “We’re at a party we don’t wanna be at.” We? It’s just you and Ed there. Me being the person that I am, I already assumed they were singing to each other. This cements it in my mind. Now, I’m not suggesting that Bieber or Sheeran are being unfaithful to their significant others to have a guy-on-hobbit fling. Let’s be real; Justin is way, way out of Ed’s league. Justin is physically perfect, he has the face and voice of an angel and the rock-hard abs of a Turkish oil wrestler. I mean, he might be missing out on something good here; ugly guys do try harder in the sack.
I think I got off track somewhere. Look, it’s not like this video is doing my neuroatypical brain any favors in the focus department.
Alas, it was Justin Bieber in the bear suit. “Mom? No, I didn’t get the job. They had to scale back for budget reasons. Something about a hippo suit.”
Terminator Twelve: Rise of the Beebcorn.
Actually, I think a Beebcorn would be Justin Bieber with a unicorn horn. Which I am shocked is not in this video.
Terminator Thirteen: Rise of the Beebcone.
Seriously, though. I have to really give it up to Bieber for being secure enough in his sexuality to sing a love song duet with another guy and dress like an ice cream cone dancing beside the image of a sexy, shirtless stud. I’ve always thought of Bieber as the kind of douchebag who would liberally pepper his conversations with “no homo,” but he’s just rolling with it.
Is that a fucking dinosaur?
This is the exact moment Justin Bieber realized that Ed Sheeran is probably a furry.
Again, I’m leaving a lot out. I just can’t cover it all. Have you noticed some of these time stamps on the screenshots? It’s incredible, the sheer amount of visuals they pack into every second. Bieber gets eaten by Pac-Man. Multiple Miserable Panda Eds dance in unison as Bieber pops up from every corner of the screen. Beebcorn is superimposed into a real cornfield beside an honest-to-the-red-earth farmer. You just cannot keep up. It’s like the Louvre; you can’t possibly see everything on one trip.
Terminator Fourteen: Rise of the Beebconepegataur.
Holy shit. Spellcheck didn’t ding Beebconepegataur. Is that…
…is that a real creature?
Just chillin’ shirtless with my furry bro at this romantic picnic. Definitely not going to fuck that horse in my Beebconepegataur Animorph form later.
There’s a cow now?!
Record Executive: Can you maybe…is the cow necessary?
Bieber: [crushing a water glass to powder in his fist] We don’t have to explain our art to you!
The rapid-fire dadaist masterpiece images keep on coming, with Banana Ed being eaten by a monkey, both Miserable Panda Ed and Bear Suit Bieber in a bamboo forest with a real panda, Ed’s ridiculously oversized head on a baseball player’s body, Ed with an animated panda head taking off his jacket in what appears to be a clumsy attempt at seduction, and…
Sheeran: No. This is all wrong.
Video Director: What is?
Bieber: First of all, the cow is clearly a guest of the bride.
Video Director: I didn’t realize it would matter–
Bieber: [biting the head off his own cardboard cut-out] Everything matters!
Sheeran: You’re fired, Josh.
True Story: This is what it looks like inside Carly Rae Jepsen’s brain at all times.
After Beebcorn, the teddy bear, and Ed in a heretofore unseen Easter Bunny costume appear on The Price is Right hosted by Ed in his bathrobe and singing into a hairdryer like a microphone, we get this:
Video Director: I’m just not sure it’s a good use of our time to insert another centaur shot–
Sheeran: [breaks a half-full bottle of champagne over his own head] We’re both centaurs! That was the deal!
Bieber: We both get to be centaurs!
Sheeran: You’re fired, Todd.
At this point, I am 100% sure that my blind readers are getting the descriptions of these images and going, “There’s no fucking way and I don’t appreciate being lied to.”
Just when you think, okay, they can’t possibly add anything, they’re going to have to start recycling shots, you get Skydiver Ed, Beebercone dancing with dual luchadores (that have to be Bieber because the legs aren’t chubby and pale enough to be Sheeran’s) against a backdrop of kawaii lemons, Awkward Suit-And-Tie Ed on a tropical beach with Shirtless Bieber, Beebcone running with the bulls in Barthelona, I mean, it just keeps getting stranger and faster until everything you’ve ever seen, everything you’ve ever heard, your entire being is consumed by the vast depths of weirdness that washes over you in a tidal wave of fever dream, graphic-design-is-my-passion ecstasy.
True Story: This is what it looks like inside my brain at all times.
Record Executive: You need my car for what now, exactly?
Bieber: We talked about this, Brad.
Sheeran: Give us the fucking keys, Bradley.
There’s a horse mask floating in front of animated pasta, being chased by the luchador. Ed’s head on a sexy girl in Daisy Dukes being pushed on a swing by the pink hippo. A lady with a hawk. As the video approaches its end, the visuals keep smacking you in the face. Did you do a bunch of angel dust? Or is this really happening? Ed’s dressed like Austin Powers. Yet another mascot, an alligator, is grinding on one of the sexy video girls.
There is absolutely no way this video wasn’t conceived during a mushroom trip in Lisa Frank’s garage.
The experience ends with Sheeran shuffling awkwardly out of a hotel in his panda suit, carrying the head. Ha ha, just kidding. That’s what happens at the end of the video, but the experience doesn’t end until you watch it two more times, send the link to all your friends, talk about it on social media, and write a two-thousand word blog post about it when you should be doing literally anything else constructive with your time. Only then do you understand what you’re really supposed to have taken away from the inexplicable thing you just saw:
Both Ed Sheeran and Justin Bieber need to get some ink on their legs because it’s absolutely jarring that only their upper bodies are tattooed.
All (cursed) images belong to Warner Bros.