Driving home from Manhattan last night, Rhea somehow got onto the subject of Justin Bieber. You can cut her some slack: she’s a children’s performer, and as such it is her duty to stay up on such things. One comment she made stood out to me: “It’s funny: no one over a certain age has ever even heard one of his songs.” Very true: I’m well over “a certain age”, and I’d never heard so much as a single, assumedly auto-tuned note of his music. Sure, I’ve seen the hair. I’ve also heard the squeals from his fans and the slander of his detractors, but he is (sort of) a musician, correct? So I said what the hell – three and a half minutes of your life is really nothing, right? – and dialed up “Baby” on YouTube.
If you’re expecting this to be the part where I tear the stupid thing limb from limb, I’m sorry to disappoint you. Likewise, if you’re now expecting me to hail it as the BEST THING EVER in a manner which may or may not be ironic, you’re also going to leave empty handed. It’s neither. What it is is exactly what it needs to be, and should be: music created at least partially by a teenager, made for folks in his own age bracket. It is neither Clash brilliant nor Rebecca Black awful. It is the teenybopper groove of the moment, nothing more or less. It adequately fills a niche that always exists in pop music/culture, and that always requires new blood. If you really need me to rate it in some way, well, fine: Bieber is far and away better than New Kids on the Block, but he’s gonna have to do a lot better than this to catch up with the lads in Hanson.
I’d be remiss if I concluded this little bit without commenting on the YouTube comments. It seems that Bieber is either THE MOST TALENTED 4EVA, or is simply TEH GAY. Ad infinitum: the postings on either side of the divide were endless, and all reeked of early pubescent boys and girls teasing each other because it’s easier than admitting they like one another. Of course, Bieber is neither: he’s just yet another teen idol trying to outrun a ticking clock. Good luck to him; I mean that sincerely, even if I’ll likely never hear another note of his music in my life.
Last thought: without a doubt, the following was the best comment out of the page or two I read:
I’ll leave it to you, dear readers, to decide whether the two fingers were being flipped at Bieber, his haters, or whether it even matters in the slightest.