Better Than Bieber

Jun 20, 2012
Originally published on September 4, 2014 2:36 pm
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Ah yes.

Jonathan, are you hearing this?

JONATHAN COULTON: Oh yeah, can you hear it too?

EISENBERG: Yeah, I know.


COULTON: 'Cause I just have it playing in my head all the time, it's Justin Bieber.

EISENBERG: Oh, you do. Yeah, yeah, it is Justin Bieber.

COULTON: Oh no, no, wait a second. If Justin Bieber's our mystery guest, you know, my daughter is never going to forgive me for not letting her come to the show.

EISENBERG: No, we're not at that part of the show yet, or do we have that kind of budget. This is the start of a competition we here on ASK ME ANOTHER are calling Better Than Bieber.


EISENBERG: So in this next game, we're actually to pay tribute to the rhyme schemes of the teen heart throb, Justin Bieber. That's right. Earlier today members of our studio audience were handed the incomplete lyrics to the Justin Bieber song "Baby," and they were asked to use their creative juices to fill in their own lyrics on every other line. OK?

So, for example, this is how Justin Bieber originally filled out his card. I'm going to read the parts we gave to the audience and, Jonathan; you will read the parts that the audience had to replace with their own lyrics.


EISENBERG: (Reading) You know you love me, I know you care.

COULTON: (Reading) Just shout whenever and I'll be there.

EISENBERG: (Reading) You want my love, you want my heart.

COULTON: (Reading) And we would never, ever, ever be apart.

EISENBERG: (Reading) Are we an item? Girl, quit playing.

COULTON: (Reading) We're just friends? What are you saying?

EISENBERG: (Reading) Say there is another and look right in my eyes.

COULTON: (Reading) My first love broke my heart for the first time.

EISENBERG: (Reading) And I was like...

COULTON: (Reading) Baby, baby, baby, oh, baby, baby, baby, no. Baby, baby, baby, oh. Goes on from there.


COULTON: It's from the heart, I'm sure.

EISENBERG: It is from the heart. So while we were busy playing games, our producers chose the best undiscovered lyricists who attempted to finish these lyrics Better Than Bieber did. So let's see what our audience has come up with.

COULTON: We have the two potential winners here. I'm going to call your names and if you wouldn't mind just coming up to stand on stage. We're not going to make you sing, we just want you up here...

EISENBERG: No singing.

COULTON: that we can more efficiently judge you.


COULTON: So is there Richard Gallagher, are you out there?

EISENBERG: Richard Gallagher.


COULTON: Come on down.


EISENBERG: Hi Richard.

COULTON: You got a laugh just from walking on stage, Richard, that's great.


COULTON: And is there a John Zamboni out there?



COULTON: So I'm going to play both of these and then we're going to vote via applause to see whose we like the best.

EISENBERG: Who did it Better Than Bieber?

COULTON: Who did it Better Than Bieber? yes. I think we'll start with this one. Here we go. Richard, this is yours.


COULTON: (Singing) You know you love me, I know you care. I can feel it in your fingers as you braid my hair. You want my love, you want my heart, like Willy Wonka you're the sweet to my tart. Ah. Are we an item? Girl, quit playing. You've been in my sock drawer, that's all I'm saying. Said there's another and looked right in my eyes, a bolt through the heart, a Silas on my thigh.

COULTON: What is a Silas?


COULTON: What is a Silas?

GALLAGHER: "Da Vinci Code," remember the monk?




COULTON: It makes you the (unintelligible), yes.

GALLAGHER: (unintelligible) day reference, that's all, sorry.

EISENBERG: I'm going to say baby, baby, baby.


COULTON: Baby, baby, baby, ow.


COULTON: And here is John Zamboni's entry. This has a theme which you may pick up on.


COULTON: (Singing) You know you love me, I know you care, but the end is coming please be aware. You want my love, you want my heart, but apocalyptic floods will make us part.


(Singing) Are we an item? Girl, quit playing. All of calendars are men.


(Singing) Said there's another and looked right in my eyes. Yeah, well December 21st you'll be surprised. And I was like baby, baby, baby.



EISENBERG: They were fabulous.

COULTON: They were both fantastic, yeah.

EISENBERG: Great job, getting the apocalyptic - you just brought that in so beautifully. Very well done.

COULTON: Oh, thanks. Well I'm a professional songwriter.



COULTON: So I think what we'll do here is I will say the name of the person and then the audience will applaud, loudly if you like it, not at all if you don't like it.


COULTON: This is one with the Silas in it, Richard Gallagher.


COULTON: And this is the one about the apocalypse, John Zamboni.


ART CHUNG: Richard was actually applauding for John, so...

COULTON: Everyone loves the end of the world...


COULTON: I think that's...

EISENBERG: I know and it's so close, that's what the fun part is too. John, so we regain some of our street cred for having you play Better Than Bieber. I would like to give you this prize. This is an NPR MUSIC tote bag.



EISENBERG: Reusable. Great job. You guys were both so fantastic. Thank you for giving us those fun lyrics and making our joke fantastic. I loved it. Art, what did you think?

CHUNG: You know, that wasn't exactly E Cummings, but I think I'm a belieber.


COULTON: (Singing) Then Art saw his face, now Art's a belieber. There's a trace of doubt in Art's mind. Art Chung's in love, ooh, Art's a belieber, he likes Justin Bieber very much.

(APPLAUSE) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.