Tracks

Jack Ü (Skrillex and Diplo): "Where Are Ü Now (f/ Justin Bieber)"

Single (2015)

By Corey Beasley | 16 July 2015

The poolboy has bad news. He stands above Diplo—passed out nude on a folding chair, his genitals still covered in soft-serve ice cream from the night before—holding the pH strip up to the midday light, panic in his eyes. “Sir, please,” the poolboy says, touching one of Diplo’s seventeen abdominal muscles. “The water in your pool—it’s 60% Bud Light Lime and 20% Walgreens-brand cold medicine. There’s only 20% water left in there, and that’s if I’m counting human sweat. For god’s sake, man, we’ve got to drain her!”

Diplo, roused at last, offers a limp high-five at the phrase “drain her,” before fading again into his sunbleached Oxy haze. The poolboy hasn’t any time to appreciate the Gothic-lettered tattoo of the word “T I T S” embossed on the DJ’s perfect, Ibiza-bronzed buttocks. He, desperate to avoid reliving the disaster of 2002’s Hot Tub Incident in Nick and Aaron Carter’s grotto, squints in the sunlight to find the outline of anything resembling an adult human. A man in black, stooped over a matte black keyboard, plays four soothing chords, repeated in a tricky rhythm the poolboy can’t quite follow. The poolboy feels calmed. He approaches the man in black, who turns to him and reveals a shocking truth: he’s a burn victim, a grotesque who’s been split down the middle by some horrible accident, a Two-Face or a Phantom of the Opera with no mask. But then, no, the poolboy’s eyes adjust to the light and he sees the man in black simply has a dumb haircut, with half of his head shaved. He sighs in relief.

“Thank God,” he says to the haircut. “I was trying to explain to Mr. Diplo—the pool, it’s poison, we’ve got to keep your guests out of the water.” The guests in question remain passed out in various contortions around the pool, drool caked to their mouths, but they’ll be awake soon enough. The man in black smiles at the poolboy and gestures to a sequencer on the table in front of him. He holds out his hand expectantly. The poolboy, confused but in thrall to the symmetry of the man’s lip piercings, gives him his hand. “There’s no time for this,” the poolboy says. “My god, think of the coeds!”

But the man in black just takes the poolboy’s index finger and places it on one of the sequencer’s pads. The piano chords are on a loop now, and the man in black presses the button with the poolboy’s finger, as if they are playing the sample as one symbiotic human with three-fourths of a head of hair. A melancholy, ethereal voice echoes from the speakers with every touch of the button, interrupting itself over and over again: “I need u th— / I need u / I need u th— / I need u / I need u-thu-thu-thu-thu-thu-thu / I need u-thu-thu-thu…” It finishes, achingly. “I need u the most.”

Listening to the music, the poolboy’s vision blurs; the pH strip flutters from his hand to the concrete. He forgets himself. Bliss spreads through him like radiation from the UV rays bombarding his uncovered skin. True, Diplo secretes Rufinol from his pores like the viscous mucous membrane of a slug—he should’ve said no to that high-five. The poolboy rubs his eyes.

“Breathe, friend. Your mission to protect our recreationally aquatic friends will wait.” The man in black speaks to him, tucking locks of pitch-dark hair—and a whiff of dry conditioner?—behind one ear. “See,” he says, with a sweep of his arm, “how they slumber.” The poolboy can’t feel his extremities, and he likes it. The man in black: “Our true guest arrives—look up, witness his ascent to our mortal plane.” The poolboy obeys.

From the middle of the pool emerges a perfectly coifed head, its helmet-hard hair the shape and majesty of a Hokusai wave painting, atop a neck begging for neck tattoos, but with no neck tattoos, not yet, dropping to a deep-v tee with the deepest v the poolboy has ever seen, a v so deep it defies imagination, a v diving to the very crotch of the thing, a crotch encased in tight black leather of Tuscan calves, the leather hems piled upon the tongues of blazing yellow basketball shoes, hi-tops hi enough to give weaker men vertigo, and all accented by a blinding, sparkling, titanic tangle of gold chains draped over the creature’s hairless, humanlike chest. The creature floats on top of the pool’s surface, its feet touching the liquid there but never dropping below.

“Is that—is it Bie—“ the poolboy stutters.

“Indubitably,” the man in black says, making room for Diplo, who has joined him at the synth rig. The Bieber begins to sing, an angelic voice slick with emotion, no less poignant for the lyrics, borrowed from O-Town b-sides. “I gave u the key when the door wasn’t open,” he croons, “just admit it.” And the poolboy does, he does admit it, and the tears spring to the corners of his eyes as they always do to the eyes of new believers. “Where are u now that I need u?”, the voice asks. Diplo belches a cloud of Axe Bodyspray and coaxes a wailing melody from the synth, a chorus of dolphins in heat, while the man in black presses the wub-wub-wub button over thick oozes of bass. The poolboy feels his feet moving, his hips, his shoulders, his head, all shaking to the rhythm. He belongs to it now, this beat, so tasteful and a dozen bpm too slow—beautifully—for the radio. And yet, he knows it will be everywhere, every pool party, every BBQ, every regrettable 2AM blur on the dancefloor. He closes his eyes, waits for the chorus to repeat, can’t even feel himself smiling. Diplo farts, naked. Behind them, a coed slips into the pool, her DNA breaking apart in the inviting toxic stew, unwinding and rewinding itself, touched now with a hint of lime.