As an Internet writer, it's my job to have at least some kind of working knowledge of the stuff people are into these days, but sometimes, shit just escapes me. Justin Bieber is one of those things.
I know I'm supposed to inherently dislike Justin Bieber, lest I have my Internet comedy card revoked, but still, I'm not really sure why. Does his music suck? No idea. Is he a dick? Couldn't tell you. I've literally spent my entire life up to this moment completely devoid of any real knowledge of the kid. But that's all about to change.
Lock up your tweens, moms of the world. Because for the next five days, I'm living like a Justin Bieber fan. Here's hoping I don't get arrested.
Day One - Jackin' for Biebs
Clearly, I need to get the dirt on Justin Bieber. I want to read about the hard scrabble youth spent toiling in daddy's saw mill and the wild nights snorting blow off of Usher's well-sculpted abs on the back of a tour bus.
According to Amazon.com, there are some books available that would propose to tell me all I need to know about the world's hottest and reportedly most obnoxious teen sensation, but this is no time to wait on Internet shipping. The public is fickle. By the time that book arrives they could have already moved on to thoughts of dangling Justin Bieber by his ankles from a hotel balcony like so many Vanilla Ice's before him.
A trip to Target yields two Bieber-centric magazines: Bop and M. Next it's on to Barnes and Noble in hopes of finding an actual biography. Instead, I just find another magazine that promises "the real life story." I buy it anyway.
Next, it's time to find some music. Because my strict sense of ethics and overbearing state of poverty forbid me from spending money on music, I instead opt for the Internet piracy route, knowing full well that after years of looting the Internet for countless gigabytes of tunes, this will likely be the one download that prompts the RIAA to toss a stun grenade through my window and sue me for $8.6 million in damages. But it's a risk I must take.
Day Two - My World (Completely Sucks)
After compiling all the research materials necessary, it's time to bone up on Justin Bieber. Christ that came out awful. Learn, is what I mean. Study. Whatever.
Yesterday, I was completely dismayed to find that this young jerk has two full albums. I'm still hoping to get around to showering this week and this kid is cranking out albums every six hours. And now I have to listen to them. Fuck me. Here goes nothing.
I start with My World instead of My World 2.0 because I keep shit chronological whenever possible. Fortunately, the album only has seven songs on it. So I take it back, this kid is lazy as shit. He probably sleeps until noon in the summer and never cleans his room. What a dick.
So how's the album sound? Like the kind of thing R. Kelly would probably jerk it to while fantasizing about urinating on 14-year-old chicks on camera, that's what. It's the kind of pop/R&B concoction that is obnoxious enough in the hands of a 19-year-old girl, let alone a kid who my friend Wikipedia assures me was around 15 or so when the album was recorded. I'm not buying it. He sounds like a 12-year-old kid at best. Or maybe a really well cared for keytar played way up the neck. Have fun following that reference, Bieber fans! The songs themselves are littered with references to lost love and heartbreak and talk of his "favorite girl." How much ass is this kid crushing that he's already got a favorite girl out of "all the girls" he's "ever known"?
But hey, the kids love it. Teen hormones are a mad house. Also a mad house: my nerves. Because this shit is grating on them, and I'm only three songs in. The fourth song, "Bigger," I shit you not begins with some creep whispering the word "mafia." I don't even have the will to investigate why that may be. Maybe the mob gets the royalties from one song per album as protection money. That would be the shit.
Thankfully, the first album goes by rather quickly, what with only having seven songs and all. Good thing too, because it ended with some kind of Frankenstein like amalgam that sounded like "Love Fool" by The Cardigans had sex with "Tainted Love" and gave birth to a baby that speaks only in Autotune.
But the party is only halfway finished. The cleverly titled My World 2.0 is up next and kicks off with that "Baby" song that I somehow manage to hear once per day even if I spend the entire day in total silence. It features a guest verse from Ludacris. Way to keep it street, buddy.
"Somebody to Love" would sound perfect over the closing credits to Mannequin 6: The Reckoning. That movie doesn't exist and that sentence isn't very descriptive, but I think you know exactly the kind of song I'm speaking of. I hope you do, because I'm done talking about it.
The rest of the album keeps up at the same pace. Basically, the kind of shit kids go nuts over. By the time it's all over, I guess I understand why the music is so popular, but goddamn "Who Let the Dogs Out" was popular too. I never saw an army of 12-year-old girls lose their shit over the Baha Men. So I'm still at a loss. Maybe a little reading will help.
Day Three - In Which I Regret Ever Learning to Read
Having learned next to nothing after several hours spent celebrating the entire Bieber catalog, it's time to dive into the reading material. Here's what I found out, the results... probably won't shock you.
Right away, M brings the goods. Check it out.
Yep, it's an article all about what the kid's hair feels like. I'm already completely confident that I'd rather go back to listening to the albums including bonus tracks, studio outtakes and demos than to sift through this insanity. But I have a job to do. I'm here to find out everything I can about what the kids are into, and the kids are into Justin Bieber. And his fucking hair, apparently. By the way, sorry to keep you in suspense, the hair - it's soft. Take note for future reference.
M is proving to be ridiculously light in the way of information. But when it comes to fun, they know what people like! For example, check out this poster that allows you to fill in the talk bubble next to the Biebs head!
Pictured: Hours of fun.
I'm also treated to my first bit of real information on page 69 in the form of this chart that assures me that Justin Bieber is compatible with every chick that would ever purchase this magazine.
Judging from those results, I think I even have a shot with the kid. Don't tempt me with a good time, M!
Hopefully Bop will help get this teen pop education kicked into gear. Let's see what they have for me.
Right on, now we're learning some shit. For example, did you know Justin Bieber is a total fraud and Nick Cannon really needs a goddamn job?
If you're going to pass yourself off as a bowling pro, at least put your finger in the damn hole. Nobody bowls that way Bieber! FYI, telling a 16-year-old kid to "put their finger in the damn hole" is illegal in 38 states. The other 12, somehow, are all Alabama.
But the information really starts flowing with a section called "Justin A - Z." I've taken the liberty of summarizing some of the highlights. You're welcome.
Life Story Magazine
Life Story proved to be by far the biggest disappointment. It was mostly just a collection of all this same shit, except the entire magazine was dedicated strictly to Justin Bieber. So, basically, I could have saved myself 10 bucks and about two hours of reading and scanning by just buying that one. The rage now bubbling inside me at the realization that I'll never get this time back is only quelled by finding this picture, which strikes me as quite possibly the most adorable thing ever.
Presh. But I still have no clue what the kids see in this dude. Furthermore, I have no idea where to go from here.
Day Four - Your Soul is Mine, Bieber
No sooner than I find myself at a loss for how to go about really getting a feel for what it is about Justin Bieber that people are so enamored with, I'm reminded of something I saw in M.
Read his face, read his soul, you say? Well, the logical extension of that would obviously be draw his face, OWN HIS SOUL! Why I didn't think of this in the first place is beyond me. Unfortunately, I can't draw for shit. But that's what YouTube is for. There are dozens of videos promising to teach me how to draw Justin Bieber's face and ultimately possess his soul for my very own, but I settle on this one.
Why that one? Because it's 46 seconds long, that's why. I'm already dangerously close to being far too old to be writing an article about this kid. Who has time to wait nine minutes to learn anything? No, under a minute is more my speed.
Approximately 90 seconds later, I'm not sure what I'm looking at, I just know I want it dead.
I OWN YOUR SOUL, BIEBER!
Day Five - Road Trip!
Finding that nothing I could do from a distance was enough to help me see what it is about Justin Bieber that makes tweens tick, short of actually approaching a group of tweens and asking and subsequently being escorted to my car by mall security, I decided to take this show on the road. As luck would have it, Justin Bieber was LIVE! IN CONCERT! IN OMAHA! Awesome?
I hit the road and set up shop at a hotel across the street from the venue, where I had a perfect view of the "Justin Bieber VIP Experience" tent. Apparently, it's either a very exclusive club or a total rip-off, because that tent is tiny as shit.
Anyway, most of the down time prior to the show was spent power drinking because A) I take my job seriously and B) I was hugely concerned that they wouldn't be selling beer on account of all the kids in attendance.
Not wanting to stick out as the creepy dude who was way too drunk and old to be at a Justin Bieber concert alone, I tossed on my best disguise and hit the venue.
As you've probably noticed, I'm horrible at disguises. And my fears about no alcohol sales turned out to be completely unfounded. In fact, as concerts go, the access to booze at this one was unprecedented. Apparently, parents have reservations about getting trashed in the company of children, which meant even before the show started and the hallways were jam packed, the beer lines were practically non-existent. Also pleasantly devoid of lines: the men's room.
And I got the pictures to prove it!
But enough about my drinking problem, on to the show! One thing I learned right away is that children have no concept of how opening acts are supposed to be handled. By the time The Stunners, the first of two opening acts, hit the stage the arena is completely packed and complete pandemonium has ensued. Don't these kids realize that at this point you're still supposed to be dropping acid in your van and listening to Judas Priest on the cassette deck? The Priest is still playing arenas, right?
As for me, I haven't even made my way to my seat, instead opting to check things out from the handicap section which is delightfully free of screaming children. The Stunners were horrible, but I found myself oddly transfixed by their stage show for some reason nonetheless.
The Stunners: all over the age of 18 from the proper distance.
Awkward! Back to the hallway for awhile. Holy shit, is that a Microsoft Kinect set up? It is. Time to rock some dance moves. Only one question at this point: Lady GaGa or Bell Biv Devoe? Just joking, that's no contest, Poison wins by a landslide. Also winning by a landslide, my desire to get the fuck away from the Microsoft Kinect after about 30 seconds.
You can't see me on the dance floor! Seriously, you can't, that picture is way too blurry.
Sean Kingston takes the stage next and if you think for one damn second I'm sitting through that, you have another thing coming. That is not part of the arrangement. Instead I spend the next hour or so on the smoking deck until the Biebs commences to do whatever he does that passes for rocking.
Unfortunately, I make the mistake of not heading for my seat until he's actually on stage. See, in my experience, no matter how packed the show may be, the nose bleed seats are a pretty calm affair. Not so this time. By the time the music starts, the odds of me stumbling around and actually finding my lone upper stratosphere seat buried in a sea of screaming tweens is not in the cards. Instead, I just kind of find a place to stand where I can still see and proceed to try and figure out what all the hype is about. As evidenced by this picture, I'm standing pretty goddamned far away.
I can confirm that the ghostly apparition in white is the man himself, Justin Bieber. OMG you guyz! As for the show, it will probably come as no surprise that things sound suspiciously similar to the actual CD. I'm not accusing the kid of lip syncing; he's clearly singing most of the time. What I am saying is that he's either employed the tightest band this side of Purple Rain-era Prince and the Revolution or great lengths are being taken to make sure the CD player hidden safely backstage doesn't skip. But who am I to judge? I outsource the writing of all my articles to some guy in India for $3.50/month.
All of the typical pop star tricks are in play here. Tons of background dancers, lots of pleas for the crowd to SCREAMMMMM! and of course, plenty of flying out over the crowd on some platform contraption so everyone can update their Facebook status to say they were "like, THIS close to Justin Bieber last night!" Naturally, at some point the lights get dimmed and shit gets intimate.
It's all been done a million times before. Some of these kids have probably even seen it before but they're just still too young to know they should be annoyed by it.
So, I guess I get it, kids. Someday you'll look back on your Justin Bieber fandom and chuckle with embarrassment. Until then, scream your lungs out and buy your magazines and your temporary tattoos. A 35-year-old Justin Bieber's desire to not have to find a day job is counting on it. As for me, I'm too old for this shit. I hightail it back to the hotel bar before the encore and call it a night.