Perhaps, in 2019, the internet will actually be … good? Yesterday, video surfaced of Justin Bieber serenading both his wife Hailey and an innocent stranger with Marvin Gaye’s 1982 hit, “Sexual Healing.” Hailey, who is likely used to Justin bursting out into song, seemed unmoved, but the man gamely played along, even embracing Justin in a one-arm dad hug. We wanted to know more about him, so, like anyone with a dial-up connection, we asked the internet who the mysterious duet partner was. And, because the internet did its thing, we were given an answer: Barry H. Corey, the president of Biola University, a Christian school in La Mirada, California.
President Corey told the Cut he was visiting the Montage Hotel in Beverly Hills with his wife to meet a family whose children attend the university, and was waiting for the valet to retrieve his car when he began to hear singing. “I saw a dude hugging the bellmen and telling them they are blessed or something, and then he started to sing ‘Sexual Healing,’” Corey remembers. “He had some special thing connecting with people, so when he reached out his hand I thought, why not?”
A self-described “57-year-old out-of-touch dad,” he didn’t recognize either Justin or Hailey upon first sight, but gathered that they might be famous given the location and the hotel staff’s reaction to them. “I noticed how kind Justin was to the valet staff, and someone yelled out, ‘Hey Justin.’ I thought, the dude is Justin Timberlake!” he admits. It wasn’t until he told his wife the story later that she told him his encounter sounded “a lot more like a Bieber than a Timberlake.”
Unfortunately, the selfie of Corey and the Biebers seems to have been lost to the pixels of the great beyond. “The picture unfortunately, was an incomprehensible blur,” he explains. Don’t blame Corey’s selfie skills, however; he maintains he’s had a lot of practice: “It’s a small way to connect with students on campus, and I often pull students in for a quick photo.”
As for the tender moment in which Justin reached out to include Corey in the duet, the latter says he isn’t that sure the singer was serenading him specifically. “At Biola, I have taken plenty of selfies with students, so I just kicked into the mode of spontaneity when Justin reached out,” he added. “I didn’t really think much of it, but when someone reaches out, you reach back. It’s the kind thing to do. We need more of this in our world these days, people reaching out to strangers and strangers reaching back.”