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Why Do Kids Love Justin Bieber?
The Appeal of Pop Star Justin Bieber
Justin Bieber has taken the pop music world by storm, parlaying a few minor hits into a media presence of which music and singing form only a part. He's been a trending topic on Twitter for months and you can't visit a celebrity gossip site without seeing the words Justin Bieber relating to some tidbit on the front page.
Those of us with certain musical prejudices can't understand the appeal of Justin Bieber. In my easy dismissal of his music as pop for pre-teens, I decided I was being unfair. I'd never actually listened to him, I'd simply seen pictures of his truly deplorable haircut and heard gossip on morning radio.
In the interests of being fair to Justin Bieber and his art, if you can call pop music art and not business, I thought I'd take a deeper look and have a listen. And in the interests of helping people, I decided to share what I found here. Maybe I can help other music snobs understand the teen star's appeal or at least help them (and me) shore up our snooty take on pop music in general.
This photo is from Wikipedia and used under the Creative Commons license outlined there.
Justin Bieber Fan? Get the Christmas Album - The Pop Star's Take on the Holidays
In part, I'm leaving this posted here to point out that the dreadful haircut has finally been conquered. Did you know that Justin Bieber has a forehead? He does!
If you're a fan of Justin Bieber's sound (or you have a favorite family member on your gift list this year) you can grab his new holiday record, "Under the Mistletoe". The name plays to the very thing I talk about here: encouraging teens and pre-teens to imagine themselves under the mistletoe with the young man in question. At least he's gotten his hair cut...
Christmas Song Videos - Justin Bieber's Holiday Cheer
A Short HIstory of Justin Bieber
He's Only Seventeen, How Long Could It Be?
Okay, the bare facts: Justin Bieber was born in Ontario, Canada in 1994. He does actually play piano, guitar, drums, and trumpet, though he's self-taught so you can decide how much weight to give that statistic. So, to be fair, he's a musician and not a manufactured pop star that doesn't know a high hat from a b-flat.
He started his climb to fame when his mother posted his second-place performance in a local singing contest on YouTube. What proud parent wouldn't? (Okay, I wouldn't. But Stranger Danger is a whole different lens.) Soon Justin Bieber videos were multiplying like rabbits as mom posted little Justin covering R&B songs for all the world to see.
And see they did. Like a modern-day fairy tale, YouTube brought millions of hits and an accidental sighting by a record label scout. At the tender age of 13 Justin Bieber was signed and singing with Usher. A quick read of the titles of his hit songs reveals a slew of love songs, which may be a factor in his massive success with 12-year-old girls.
Videos of Justin Bieber's Life - TV Interviews and Some Live Performances
I tried to include videos not only of Justin Bieber singing live but to add him playing an instrument or four. I have to be honest, his lack of formal instruction really shows, in all aspects. He's a cute kid but a talented musician he's not. But if you tell people you taught yourself play piano, trumpet, drums, and guitar you sound pretty impressive. I can't help but think it's all a part of the Justin Bieber PR machine.
So What IS Justin Bieber's Appeal?
Why Do Kids Love Justin Bieber So Much?
I have to say it, folks, but kids love Justin Bieber because he's famous. He sings love songs with cheesy lyrics and girls swoon because it's a fantasy, just like it was when the Back Street Boys made it big in the 80s: that super-famous, blandly-attractive boy could be singing to me. And for everyone under the age of about seventeen the dream that one day your chance to make it big could fall in your lap means more than discerning musical taste.
To be fair, as that's the entire point of this article, Justin Bieber isn't a horrible singer. He's not very good and with his voice changing it remains to be seen whether he improves with voice coaching or if he's going to fade into the has-beens bin at Target. He's riding high right now, making television appearances and a movie for MTV, milking his fame for all it's worth. While that may lead to adults being sick to death of him it cements his concert ticket sales and makes him lots of money. That's smart strategy for something that could end in a few months.
Justin Bieber is no less talented than a lot of singers who have made names for themselves over the years. The music industry knows just how to play young people: love songs and exploding fame feed the sorts of dreams that everyone nurtures at some point in his or her life. There's nothing wrong with that, in general. And consider how much Justin Bieber has lowered the bar for the singers and songwriters out there that have serious talent--these kids will be floored when they hear real music.
In short, Justin Bieber is a safe fantasy for kids, whether it's a first crush or a role model for how to get famous or achieve your goals. He seems approachable and pretty much just a normal kid. Wouldn't it be nice if adult celebrities let us grown-ups dream a little, too? The boy band phenomenon and the Velveeta-like processed pop star have been staples of the music industry for decades. Justin Bieber can have his flash in the pan and there will be people in twenty years who seek him out for the television staple, "Whatever Happened to..."
What Do You Think of Justin Bieber - Love Him, Hate Him, Couldn't Care Less?
And so I'm curious to see who'll read this far into my little exploration. Please vote to share your opinion of Justin Bieber. If you have more to say, I welcome comments in the guestbook at the bottom of the page as well.
Do you love Justin Bieber, or not?
Justin Bieber's More-Professional Music Videos - Official Videos for Justin Bieber Hits
Here's a look at Justin Bieber after he's spent months in the studio re-recording and fine-tuning his vocals. He performs with a lot of very famous people, like Usher and Ludacris, as well. Compare these processed and prettified songs to the rough live takes above. Is it any wonder people believe that he has a strong voice? There were plenty more "stare at the CD cover and listen to the song" takes but no other official studio release videos to include here, at least that I could find.
I've included Baby, Justin Bieber's biggest hit, Never Say Never, which was recorded with Jaden Smith for the new Karate Kid movie, and Somebody to Love, Never Let You Go, and One Time as well as a few others.
Trash or Defend Justin Bieber - Have Your Say on the Teen Pop Star
Okay, people, it's time to cut loose. Share what you think about Justin Bieber, whether you love him or hate him. Keep it civil, though. Profanity and personal attacks will be deleted. Also, HTML has been disabled so don't bother dropping links here. I just want to hear what people have to say about this latest teen pop music craze.
Is Justin Bieber a Teen Pop Powerhouse or Just a Record Label Schill?
Justin Bieber is talented and a good person.
Sample and Buy Justin Bieber Songs - Justin Bieber mp3s for All!
If you've been swayed to the Justin Bieber fan side of this argument or if you're still deciding, you can sample tracks from both of his albums below. I've included songs from the soundtrack to his upcoming film, Never Say Never, and fifteen of his older songs (plus a couple of acoustic songs as bonus material) but you can click through and listen to every last one of them if you like.
If you've got a story to tell or just a comment to make about this page or about Justin Bieber in general, I'd love for you to share it here. Do you think his personality has changed in the last two years? Did you babysit him when he was seven? Share the juicy or snarky details! (Once again, no link dropping will work as the HTML has been turned off below. This is not a spam collection box, folks.)