Graham Reid | | 2 min read
In a cover which looks about as far from exciting as that exclamation mark wants us to believe this is, comes yet another unauthorised biography -- this from a director of E! Hollywood True Story -- about a young man for whom no hyperbole is too understated.
Here again we are told of his remarkable rise from Stratford in Ontario -- "a small bucolic town" on the cover, a "metropolis" in the hyperventilating voice-over -- through local talent shows, clips posted by his supportive single mum on You Tube to a bidding war between Justin Timberlake and Usher, the signing to Island/Def Jam, the screaming and hits, his relentless tweeting etc etc.
Well, given this story only began a little over three years ago there might be one too many "etc" there.
What sets this doco apart from this version of the same story is the inclusion of some rather more skeptical and even cynical voices amongst the braying cheerleaders and entertainment journalists who mostly tell us what we already know.
There is also an interview with Kristen Hawley of Stratford who beat Bieber in a talent quest in '07. She is generous (he was "the full package" as an entertainer she says) but in the silent footage where her win is announced Bieber looks shocked.
No matter, he went busking (earned a tidy sum too) and just kept doing it.
We are told he "mastered" many instruments (!?) before he was scooped up off You Tube by his talent scout/manager Scooter and presented to Usher and Timberlake.
But when the journalists start talking about the "swagger" that Bieber confidently adopted through his association with Usher, a little "street" as it were, it is over to the comedians, notably black stand-up Willis Turner Jr, for the necessary corrective.
Turner says, "He don't look like he's gonna pull a gun. He's got swagger like, he's gonna do your taxes, he can help you with your homework, he gonna get you through algebra".
Right on, Willis.
Another refers to Bieber as "the anti-Sheen".
There is also much time devoted to how it has been in the best interests of Ludacris and the like to hitch their wagons to Bieber and get across to that young white audience, just as Bieber is getting to the "urban" audience by being with these black hip hop artists.
(My take is that Bieber is getting to a suburban, not an urban, audience).
But this doco also points out how the smart artists like Bieber now have the power over record companies and promoters because by tweeting and using their own Facebook contacts they are drawing their audience, it is not promoters/record company stiffs doing it for them like in previous decades.
Today it is more "What are you going to do for me?" than "thanks for doing that".
The importance of the internet in Bieber's rise cannot be ignored, but it is overstating things to suggest the whole game has now changed and that artists are all going to be discovered on You Tube.
By way of evidence? Well, Kristen who beat the Bieber is doing her thing on the internet. Ever heard of her?
Yep, Justin Bieber is a phenomenon. But, nice guy though he seems to be (although does he have any private life? It never seems to be addressed), he has not completely changed the music industry.
He might, however, help you with your homework and get you through algebra.
Interested in the pop phenomenon? Check out this.