There is something going on in the world of music and pop culture. It’s something I’ve seen before going back to New Kids on the Block, Vanilla Ice, and up through the boy band craze of the mid to late 90’s (N’SYNC, Backstreet Boys). It’s a thing which skinny white boys who can dance and…ahem…harmonize, have been having a problem with for a long time; it’s a contagion, which has elicited a study, only amplified by a little sixteen year old kid whose single on YouTube got him untold fame, fortune, billions of screaming little girl fans, and the ethnically-blind B.E.T. Award nomination. I’m talking of course about Justin Bieber and his fame helps explain so much of what producers have been trying to perfect for the last twenty years in pop music: Bieberonomy.
Who is Justin Bieber: Justin Bieber may be the archetype for this type of mass-appeal, insane-crossover fame. As it stands he’s still just a kid from Canada who can’t even drive a car! At the same time he’s been spotted running on the beach with Kim Kardashian. He has toured the world, elicited the ear-piercing screeches of scores of young ladies, and made connections that folks spend their whole careers in the music world trying to make. It began with maybe one of the luckiest auditions ever in front of the hip-hop impresario Usher, which led to his getting in front of mega producer L.A. Reid and got him in the studio. Heck, even Bieberonomy predecessor Justin Timberlake allegedly wanted to sign the young chap, but it wasn’t to be. Due to our instant information age, all the rest of this has been well-chronicled common knowledge. Still, it’s interesting to have a look back, see what came before, and understand how we got to this moment in history and who else could be classified in the study of Bieberonomy.
What is Bieberonomy: To say Justin Bieber is a really lucky kid is something of an understatement. He has accomplished what has taken some (Timberlake) years; what others (Van Winkle…Vanilla Ice) never could; he’s achieve mass appeal marketability coupled with the street-cred that comes from his professional affiliations. Of course Bieber is really just a pawn in this shuffling; Usher and Reid are using him to make money. They’re marketing this kid; through their established channels and their knowledge of the music business in a way that they feel will work. The fact that he’s cute as a button and can stretch those pre-pubescent vocal chords around is just gravy. So in a way Bieberonomy has nothing to do with Justin Bieber the person at all. He’s just the latest to make his way through its channels and he’s the “it” kid today so he gets the moniker.
Bieberonomy noun – Etymology: Modern Day World Popular Culture also American Popular Culture: the study of celebrity musicians who have mass-crossover appeal; also the study of their physical and commercial properties. See: New Kids on the Block, Vanilla Ice, Backstreet Boys, N’SYNC.