A 3D-printout of a Justin Bieber poster arrived in Auckland for a secret show – this walking cardboard cut-out will perform to a radio station guest-list of around 150 people. There will be no discernment in the room. That’s okay though as there will be no “real” music. People will check their coats and dignity and Bieber will ‘sing’ to backing tapes – no doubt he’ll debut a few new songs as he aims to re-energise his career. He’ll play some of the old favourites, from back in those crazy days of 2010, 2011 – what the kids refer to as ‘history’. Me? I’m going to wait for the touring Whitney Houston hologram. Then I can truly say I’ve seen the light. Plus, I hear she offers more depth.
Bieber singing Baby at 21 is like Donny Osmond singing Puppy Love at 50. Or at least that’s my guess.
It’s irrelevant whether Bieber is talented or not. He is, in this life, a set of cheekbones. A seat for some jeans – which you too can own as well if you shop at the right stores! He is a child picked out for a poster to then become poster-child. Now – apparently a man – but hoping still to sell his songs to anyone chasing boys – Bieber signed his life away and that FU-money that he ripped through needs a wee top-up it seems.
Born in Canada, in 1994 – now that’s pre-historic! – Bieber was discovered the only way anyone knows how anymore, via YouTube. This happened in 2007 when his mother needed some extra money to keep the laboratory going. A whirlwind of promotional tours and teaser-clips ensued. We got snippets of songs before we got the whole thing. When we got the whole thing most of us politely handed it back. And when the laboratory was taken over by British owners, a faster treadmill meant a new direction, One Direction. Five Biebers for the price of one, singing diversity-dolls for white girls interested in seeing the representation of more than one haircut.
Bieber then decided he best buy press the old fashioned way with a manicured “meltdown”. He pelted the house next door with eggs, he tasted alcohol, he drove poorly – and was home in time for tea. Still, a big day for the Bieb.
The fans – the True Beliebers – stuck by him, even though they could now look at almost anything else on Instagram. And they could still watch his clips on YouTube, download his sugar-rush concoctions or borrow something called a “CD” from their mum (who only ever looked at the pictures in the accompanying booklet) – but again, numbers were dwindling.
Justin Bieber isn’t the enemy – he’s not half as bad as most Justin Bieber fans you’ll hopefully never have to meet. But he is someone that should never – ever – be taken seriously. When you sell your soul before you’ve even developed it you deserve the fate handed to you by angry internet critics. When you dance with the devil you are the one going backwards, forced to wear heels, you are the one that is there to make the devil look good.
Justin Bieber has as much in common with music as this piece of writing does with objectivity. Justin Bieber is having the time of his life. Or so he’s been told. Justin Bieber will tonight get to meet his true audience of Kiwi Beliebers: 150 people peering through their phones at him more concerned with who gets to update their status first, more concerned with what they’re wearing than what they’re hearing, more concerned with the ruse that they’ve “won” something.
Justin Bieber might, for just a second, look out at the backs of 150 phones tonight and recognise that he’s better than everyone there for him. Hopefully he also works out that that’s still not good enough, still barely anything at all, and he’ll never be able to actually be himself. Because when you play to 150 people who actively engage with commercial radio – and that’s your key audience in the bid to get yourself back over – you have no self. You aren’t anything beyond advertising. You have disappeared deep inside the marketing. There might, for his 45 minutes in a blue-bathed spotlight, be One Less Lonely Girl in that world but a lonely boy trying (almost) to be a man is kidding himself for just a bit longer now. Just another week, or month, or year. For whatever it takes. In whatever way he can. Until it all breaks.
This was originally published on Stuff.co.nz see here