Justin Bieber makes me (and Ellen) feel like like an old lady.

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?

by Kelsey Wallace
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Kelsey Wallace is an editor in Portland, Oregon. Follow her on Twitter if you like TV and pictures of dogs.

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20 Comments Have Been Posted

My media professor played a

My media professor played a clip of this kid in our class and everyone there was really confused about what his appeal is. Even the people whom the mass-marketed pop genre would normally appeal to were cracking up. This kid is ridiculous! I was shocked to hear that he's 15. He looks 11. I don't know. I'm 19, and I don't get it, and most of the people my age don't get it either.


I don't think it's much different at all from the stuff that was popular when I was 15. NKOTB, anyone? Kids this age are probably even more romantic than adults my age (I'm 30), because it's all still mostly fantasy. I actually think this song is pretty sweet, compared to people singing about ho's. I'm much happier that this is popular than yet another video with a half naked woman shaking her ass.


I am 27 and I LOVED NKOTB when I was a kid. Remember Backstreet Boys? 'Nsync? Same stuff. He is singing about the same type of lovey dovey stuff. When I was like, 14 ... I LOVED that because boys my age were NOT like that and I hated them for it (I also was not out as bi/queer at that time). This was the type of stuff I wanted boys to say to me. Now? Hell no ... haha. But I can completely get the appeal. Does it make me feel old? Nah.

I started to feel ancient

I started to feel ancient when the Jonas Brothers came along, and this just adds to that. (And I'm only 22!) Back in the '90s, I was all about Hanson. I look back now and am completely dumbfounded as to why I was ever attracted to them in the first place! It was a very innocent crush, so I would just assume (and hope to God!) that it's a fairly similar experience for today's preteens.


Maybe we just have a thing for talented kids. We all like child 'prodigies' who are even marginally talented. Maybe not 'like', but are amazed at kids and teens who are more talented than most of us could ever be...I don't know.


Okay, I admitt it-- I'm 20 and I love the kid. I don't think he's the greatest performer in the world (I mostly watched the dancers), but as pointed out above, he's still really young. It will be interesting to see what Usher does with him. Granted, I have a brother who is a freshman in high school right now.. Bieber reminds me of my brother to a ridiculous extent. I'm also attracted to the integrity of his voice. I'm sure they'll alter his recordings, but for now, it feels like he's really singing and I admire that in anyone. Also, when listening to the radio, I got to hear the kid acapella and it was pretty impressive. So, am I obsessed? Nope, but I can see the appeal. If anyone has a brother or brother-like figure with shaggy-skater hair that is that color, maybe you'll partly understand.

JB does JT


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....oooh if I've spent the past 10 minutes watching youtube clips of him does that mean I'm also obsessed with him?!

Remember when you were 14?

When you're a tween/teenager, you are sold these ideas about what it is to grow up. You're interested in these ideas, but a part of you still wants to cling to the safe world of childhood. I think most of Bieber's appeal rests in him being a representation of all of that. His baby face is innocent enough not to frighten, but his lyrics are mature enough to make you feel that <i>you</i> are grown up and mature, or at least to pretend that you are. You get the best of both worlds, and marketing for these acts (no matter what decade they are from) always gets this about teenagers. To understand his appeal, you really have to go back to your teenage self, the beliefs and fears you had about growing up and getting older and how easily they can be played to and milked.

I am 13 and I listen to Justin Bieber

All yu guys who are in your 20 or whatever calm down.
I've created a list (over 80 reasons ) on why Justin Bieber gets to us soo fast.
I mean he got me hocked in less then two hours!
Also you know we wish there was guys lime him today.
He can dance , sing , he's smart , sweet , but still a skater.Also cute with a body.
We wish guys today were like that , but their not.
You prolly haven't notice but teenage guys today are lazy , and only think of getting in girls pants.
Half of them are not smart , and if you go to a dance the be sitting at a table checking the girls out giving the most ignorant comment.
Justin actully knows his songs , he doesn't need some ear piece to remeber his songs.
His songs actaully touch us and make us belive there is more guys like him out there.
He started as a small town boy , and look at where he's gone now ?
I don't see you up there on Ellen singing a hit single ? Yeah.
And also people might say he has a high piched voice , but remeber how you sounded before puberty ? That's what I tought.
Here in Ellen his voice is depper , he's a late blommer ? Big woope.
I'm 13 and I'm a late bloomer ? You just have to deal with the fact that society is changing and we are advancing.
That guy upthere who all you are critisinzing actually followed his dream unlike half of you.
He is changing how we tenagers think!
If you haven't notice there's is something in the world called change and there is no rule to stop it.
Also if you think we don't lisent to old music , we do.
You would hear us singing the temtations , back streat boys , the cardigans. And much more.
Maybe you should a teenager about their opinion before making an asumption.
Thank you.
Oh and here is the website where all the reasons are at :

Haha wow, this comment is

Haha wow, this comment is truly ridiculous, even apart from the atrocious spelling errors and the attacking demeanor.

Wow...This is why we don't ask teenagers.

The young teeny-bopper should understand it isn't that we were disregarding teenagers opinions on Justin, but after responses such as this, it makes us not want to even consider opinions. I don't remember even when I was that age, even having a huge thing for young guys like that. And now at 25, it's kind of creepy as others have said as well. I can't say what it is, it's just creepy. I don't want to turn to MTV and everytime it goes to commercial you see this kid singing about things that is just creepy coming out of his mouth, and he looks like he is 11- again as others have said.

I understand our teenagers are advancing but I mean come on, that would be like me singing about menapause, something I clearly have no experience on. It would just be a joke. That's great he is following his dream, but just as teenagers have the right to crush and blush over him; adults have a right to pause, roll our eyes, and ask what the heck is going on here, why???

It's all opinions and even our little teeny boppers should respect that, as they would like us to respect that they crush on him. I guess when you don't have to work, don't have bills, I guess you can spend your time posting what was it, 80 reasons he is "Awesome". But to come off so demanding that we should respect the way you feel, give it a rest. We are all well aware of going for your dreams, we have been there, and we are actually living them. Everyones idea of a dream is in the eyes of the beholder and to downplay that and insult people because of their opinion, I think you need a lesson on respecting peoples opinions, and how to approach someone.

To each their own, but myself personally I will continue to roll my eyes and wish for them to stop playing that stuff after each show on MTV.

I get it!

Justin Bieber is adorable, and he has an adorable voice. I'm also out of the target demographic, I'm 22, but I think he's a cutie pie. I was never interested in this new wave of emerging entertainers - Zac Efron, Jonas Brothers, Selena Gomez because I'm just too old for that now...but there's something different about Justin Bieber, maybe it's because his mentor is Usher and I love Usher - but I actually do like some of his songs and he is blessed with a very angelic voice. Maybe its because they take me back to that time when I was a teenager and liking someone was so simple and fun and innocent. Also, despite the spelling errors and the defensiveness in this comment, it did make me realize something. I remember loving N'Sync and 98 Degrees, and now I'm wondering what the hell was I thinking liking Justin Timberlake at that age when he that bizarre blond looking stuff on his head? I loved him though. Also Justin Bieber's lyrics aren't anything worse than what I was being fed as a kid listening to Spice Girls or N'Sync. I think because we're older, we can see what the lyrics in the songs actually mean and remember the impact they would have had on us at that age. But we were exposed to the same things growing up. I definitely think this music gives kids an unrealistic expectation of what love is supposed to be about. And alot of time kids have to learn how unrealistic their expectations are the hard way.

If this were a couple of

If this were a couple of centuries ago, he'd be keeping that lovely voice, and losing a certain other important part of male anatomy...

Little angel boy voices have long been prized. I find it kind of creepy; I don't know what the attraction is, particularly.

As for the lyrics... well, sadly, nothing else sells. It's just such a common topic. Meh.


My first thought: I could beat that kid at arm-wrestling. (I'm 17.)
Second thought: What... the... hell? I feel sorry for this dude. I wonder what adult is behind all of this. It just seems wrong to me somehow. I can't imagine any 15-year-old boy I know wanting to do this, even if they are good at singing. It's so manufactured and overwrought and ridiculous. Honestly, the whole thing disturbs me. But then again, all child stars do. Also, what if his voice drops?

He owes a LOT to Michael Jackson. Hope he knows that.

I agree, but remember The

I agree, but remember The Backstreet Boys and NSYNC and Hanson and all of those boybands from the late 90s? I don't feel sorry for him if it's what he loves doing and is making money and has a ton of fans, but I will feel sorry for him if he goes the way of Nick Carter, unemployed with a drug problem. Let's just hope his parents have their heads screwed on and they prevent him from going off the deep end. Things usually don't fare well for child stars.

Justin+drugs= never

This kid could have access to any drug he wanted in the world at any time but Justin's a good kid and with all stars and fans helping him I think he will grow to be just as innocent and sweet as he is now. Sure if he goes that way like a lot of child stars he will drag everything hes made down but he will also have any of the help he needs because of the media in his life. I'm sure no one would ever let anything happen to our beloved Bieber baby.


Teenage girls like him because he's feminine. He has a high-pitched voice, a baby face, looks very young, and is non-threatening.

Every single boy band that has existed has consisted of younger-looking boys with high-pitched voices with femininesque features. Ever wonder why Nick from the backstreet boys and Justin Timberlake from NSYNC were the most popular? They had soft, more feminine features. And since they've grown up they've become more masculine, but that was their appeal. Remember that band Hanson from the mid-to-late 90s? They had long hair and I honestly thought the lead singer was a girl.

I personally never liked any of those boy-band guys or that music, but for teenage girls, it's very non-threatening, and the lyrics that they sing are all about loving girls, how girls are so special, etc.

So I can understand why teenage girls are into him.


i honestly dont think its like that i looove justin bieber and i don't think that all of his songs mean that i know that most of them are about girls and all puppy love in stuff but i don't think his songs go that far i mean he is just a kid like me and some of his songs are also about real life and what happens to real people.

Justin bieber

Justin does actually have an album! In fact he has two and I think he is something lovely for our youth to be following!
He may be a bit small and thinking a bit to big,
but he is a good kid and I think children have a right to admire him for him music as well as how adorable he is.

I think your a bit out of touch and maybe just a tad jealous.

He is very ATTRACTIVE!!!! i

He is very ATTRACTIVE!!!! i would say he makes every woman and girl feel special...

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