Viewed from afar – The curious case of Justin Bieber

I’d like to start out with a disclaimer. I have never actively listened to Justin Bieber. I listen to a selection of singers, musicians and genres that have followed me since the mid-eighties when I discovered what the hell music was. A lot of oldies still rotate, and a small part falls under the RIWO model – Random In, Worst Out. As a songwriter this might seem a perverse model to follow, as it does very little to actually support other artists unless they present me with something that surprises and pleases me, but honestly… why should I waste my time on music that doesn’t move me?

Back to Justin! I know of two tracks of his – Baby Baby Ooh – not sure if this is the right title, but he sings it in the chorus, and I’m sure you know which one I’m talking about. It’s pleasant and well written, but nothing I haven’t heard before. The other one is Mariah Carey’s re-recording of All I Want For Christmas – or as I like to call it: The Four Minute Macy’s Commercial. The new Macy’s version is bubblegum perfection… a sugarcoated product which in the end I just wanted to spit out. Biebers’s voice – stuck in mid-puberty – is every bit as damaged as Carey’s, and there is not enough AutoTune in the world to hide those facts. Big props to the engineers who are able to filter and emancipate Mimi’s whispering pipes, and even bigger props to the arranger who were able to insert Bieber’s restricted, pubescent five-note vocal range into an otherwise uninspired copy of the original arrangement, a song I still consider one of the finest seasonal feel-good songs ever written.
Back to Justin! Again! There is a lot of hate on the internet directed towards the young Canadian. Does he honestly deserve it? Does any child deserve such an immense back-lash of bile and rejection?… and please don’t think I’m being flippant about his age. He didn’t start out as the tattooed, angry, rebel-wannabe twenty-year-old. The world has watched his transformation from YouTube-sensation to full-fledged pop superstar, which has taken as many years as it takes a boy to transform into a man, at least in the physical sense. Why isn’t anyone talking about the insanity of taking a grown boy and dumping him into the a world of calculated management and constant scrutiny? What is Justin Bieber other than a child that has survived a long period of abuse? Did Usher do a good job of mentoring the child? He’s made a lot of money for his family and his management, but what about the boy? Has it been worth it? When does the conversation start which defines the wisdom of taking a child and turning him into a star?
Music aside… has anyone been through more bullying than Justin Bieber? Did you participate? Does it make you proud to think about what the western world – especially Hollywood and the music biz – does to it’s children?
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