My main goal in all this was to try to discover why everyone is so nuts about this kid and how it all happened in such a short time. I don't have any of his songs on my iPod, even though I am apparently his target demographic based on a good number of the fans I saw in the movie, so I'm not really basing much of this on the music itself. I'm not sure how close I got to solving the puzzle, but I did develop some theories. Now, in honor of Bieb's 17th birthday (March 1st!), I propose that JB is insanely popular for one or more of the following reasons:
1. He's talented. If you watch the early video of cute little Justin as a tot, you'll see that even then he had great rhythm. He appears to be a fairly accomplished drummer, and he also plays the guitar and piano. He works hard on his vocals, which is especially challenging as he moves through puberty, a fact I can attest to as I have a teenage son in my house and it's often a surprise what octave will come out of his mouth.
2. He works hard. Before he became the huge hit that he now is, Justin hustled to get people to listen to his songs. He visited radio station after station and played acoustic versions of his songs until he started developing a following. Even now, as awesome as his life is on the road, it really is work. He mentioned in one of his interviews that when he gets sick he can't just lie around. This struck me as two household teens battled a nasty stomach flu last week, awake for no more than 10 minutes at a time.
3. He has hooked up with the right people. Although Usher is credited with "discovering" Justin, it was really his (now) manger, Scooter Braun, who persuaded Justin's mom to bring him to Atlanta to meet some industry folk, including Usher. Despite getting lots of rejection in the early days, JB's peeps persisted until they had a deal. Even now, he seems to have a really protective crew supporting and protecting him.
4. He's an only child. This part is vital and eliminates any of my (four) kids from becoming the next Big Thing; otherwise they probably would be. I know there are kids like Miley Cyrus out there who have siblings, but it's definitely an advantage if your single mom can give all of her time and energy to your career and not be bothered with pesky brothers and sisters. During the winter Olympics a couple years ago, my son mentioned that it would be great if I could quit my job and devote myself to letting him ski fulltime. Of course he qualified that with, "but I know you don't care about my happiness." He was born into the wrong family!
5. He lives in the age of YouTube. Justin was discovered because of his videos on YouTube. His mom never sought a singing career for him and even resisted Scooter's initial attempts to pull him in. I'm desperately trying to find something interesting that my kids can do in front of the camera but am concerned that they're too old to be endearing at this point. Speaking of which...
6. He's adorable. Having spent this past Sunday at a high school level boys volleyball tournament, I can objectively say that the transition from boy to man is not always a pretty one. While Justin is using Invisalign "braces" to tweak a stray tooth here and there, my own kids are enduring oral surgeries for various extractions and other procedures (thank goodness one of our friends is an oral surgeon- we qualify for the frequent punch card at this point), headgear, palette expanders and years of braces to resolve the jumbled mess in each of their mouths. Also, how in the world has Justin gone through his teens blemish free? That's not even normal. I daresay if he was having a less attractive teenhood, his appeal might be diminished a bit.
7. He's a good sport. I am a huge Jimmy Fallon fan who, in turn, is a huge Justin Bieber fan. A recent episode had Jimmy pretending to be Justin thinking deep thoughts. Who should pop on the scene but the boy himself. He doesn't seem like he takes himself seriously and hopefully the millions of girls ready to lay down and die for him won't go to his head (that wouldn't happen, would it?).
Teenage stardom is a tricky thing. Will he stay cute? Will his voice change? Will he get a pimple? Only time can answer these pressing questions. In the meantime, I'm a bit of a Belieber myself now. I even have a favorite song: "U Smile". Alas, I may have caught the Fever, after all.
Here is a video of an early interview with JB during which he gives you his chronology in less than three minutes, including footage of him performing for Usher. Enjoy!