After writing 158 posts in the Weekly Music Commentary, I have finally chosen to feature young superstar Justin Bieber. I do not have a problem in featuring him, because I have written about other young artists in the past. I have also featured several pop music stars in earlier posts. Nevertheless, I knew the day would come when I would feature this particular young teen sensation. Bieber has made headlines since starting at the age of fourteen, and lately some negative stories have started to pop up with prevalency. In our day negative press seems to be an expected by-product of success – warranted or not. As with most teen stars, their audience more than not tends to be their peers – very young like them. Justin Bieber is no exception as we look at his fan base. Young teenage girls flock to listen to his music. Older music listeners generally do not relate to Bieber’s music, but he has still enjoyed tremendous success.
Bieber has received many awards, including both Artist of the Year Awards at the 2010 American Music Awards and the 2012 American Music Awards, and was nominated for Best New Artist and Best Pop Vocal Album at the 53rd Grammy Awards. With a global fan base, termed as “Beliebers”, and over 40 million followers on Twitter, he was named by Forbes magazine in 2012 as the third-most powerful celebrity in the world. He had earned an estimated US $55 million in the earlier 12 month period.
Despite the great success and earning power, we must remember that Bieber is just nineteen years old. What that means is sometimes Bieber may do things you would expect…..from a teenager. It is not normal for someone to earn mega millions of dollars well before their twentieth birthday, but that is the case with Justin Bieber. Even though he may receive the best possible advice from his management team and parents, the young star is still treading in somewhat unknown waters among his circle of influence. Of course, there have been many child celebrities before Bieber, and there will be many more after him to forgo the bulk of their childhoods. Nonetheless, I wonder if Justin Bieber is moving toward a happy adulthood, or if there is great angst to come. My reason for such speculation comes after a couple of statements from Bieber around the holidays.
First, Bieber tweeted on Christmas Eve “My Beloved Belieber’s. I’m officially retiring”. The tweet did follow another public comment about retirement. A week before, he told Los Angeles radio station Power 106, “After the new album, I’m actually, I’m retiring man, I’m retiring.” However, sources told TMZ the singer was joking. Maybe it was a joke, but it sounds like the superstar, who told USA TODAY “the last year has not been the easiest for me,” wants to step away from the spotlight for a bit. He followed his first tweet with this one, “The media talks a lot about me. They make up a lot of lies and want me to fail but I’m never leaving you, being a belieber is a lifestyle.” Bieber’s manager and friend, Scooter Braun, told USA TODAY, “Next year will be less about the career. I expect Justin to be doing things like snowboarding, backpacking, working on his charities, but more often than not, he’ll be in the studio. Music is his therapy.”
Interestingly, Justin Bieber’s concert film biopic Believe was released on Christmas Day to mostly negative reviews from audiences and professional critics. Matt Joseph of We Got This Covered concluded that, “Even if it doesn’t ask all the right questions or provide the answers we’re looking for, the film is a perfectly harmless piece of work that will send fangirls the world over into a tizzy and entertain those who still haven’t fully hopped onto the Belieber train.” Joseph’s review reminded me of something my father taught me about evaluating people in general. He always paid attention to the things people did not say, as opposed to the things they shared. From what I saw of the film, time will show many of those answers that many want to hear about Bieber; and the last realization probably will not be as dramatic as most might think.
At this time, we are faced with a young man who is growing into adulthood, and his music will change for better or worse as he grows. Many feel that the “beliebers” are growing up too, and that means his audience will either move on or change. Will Justin Bieber soon retire? Doubtful, but we’ll all keep watching and listening!