A few weeks back I was tipped off to the Curious Case of Justin Bieber. If you are not one of the 80 MILLION people who have watched Bieber’s videos on YouTube, there are just a few things you need to know. One, Bieber is 15 years old and looks, in traditional adolescent boy style, even younger. Here he is, in all his backwards-hatted glory:
The second thing to know is that Bieber is rapidly making a name for himself as a pop musician who sings songs about loving girls and having fun and being romantic. The last thing that is important to keep in mind is that, apparently, our nation’s youth are OBSESSED by this pint-sized popster. He doesn’t even have an album out yet and he is all over the place. (And by place I mean the Internet, the Billboard Top 40 Chart, the talk show circuit, and probably your younger cousin’s bedroom wall.) Usher and Justin Timberlake had a bidding war over this kid, for Pete’s sake.
Bieber appeared on Ellen this afternoon (video after the jump) and watching him got me thinking, What the heck is going on here? Why are America’s youngsters losing their shit over this guy? And why is Justin Bieber making me feel like such an old lady?
Here is the Ellen video:
I know that a teeny-bopper pop musician getting his start at age 15 is nothing new. Nor are Bieber’s adult-themed lyrics (saving a girl from a bad relationship, sharing a life together, etc.). Even his videos, which show him doing weirdly adult things like house sitting for Usher or hanging out at a laundromat aren’t really breaking any new ground. So what gives?
I was prepared to write a post about how insidious I thought Bieber’s fame was, and how I thought his popularity was indicative of the sexualization of young people. These things may be true, but the truth is also that pop music has always played off of these themes. Back when I was younger than Bieber (ahh, the 90s) I jammed out to Usher (now Bieber’s patron in the music biz) sing about “gettin’ wit u” when he was only 15. I loved Aaliyah, ABC, I’ll even own up to listening to the Backstreet Boys and NSYNC, and all of them were in their teens. Did it corrupt me to hear them sing about adult-level romance when I was in middle school? Maybe. Probably not, though.
At any rate, watching J. Biebs dance around on Ellen today I couldn’t help but roll my eyes and say a silent prayer for the youth of our nation (and Canada, where Bieber apparently is from). When Ellen said Justin Bieber made her feel just about as old as she’s ever felt in her life, I had to agree. I may be only 27, but I am already much too old to fall into the demographic Bieber is targeting. Does that mean that Bieber is dangerous, or that I am officially out of touch? Are you a Justin Bieber fan? Why?