I know, you just came here to berate me for this headline – but hear me out.
As we all know, the world can currently not
escape get enough of Taylor Swift. Her tour, her BFFLS, her feuds, her music, her music videos, her controversies, her haters, her lovers – it’s seemingly all Taylor all the Time.
And with this – dare I say – over saturation, has come the inevitable backlash. Our once loveable girl from PA whose family moved to Nashville to write her feelings into anthems has turned into a finely tuned pop-music machine. And you know what? Good for her. She’s a savvy business woman who has wisely navigated the obstacles of pop-music to take her career to new heights. But let’s get one thing straight – she is no longer the underdog. Not by a long shot.
Enter: Justin Bieber. Bieber – who once stood proud atop a mountain of screaming tween fans. Who was birthed by said fans on YouTube; a case study for what it means to be a pop-star in the internet age. And who, quickly after hitting puberty, saw his public image crumble. He became the butt of every joke, a troubled youth who couldn’t make a right decision to save his life – with some even calling for his deportation.
But now we are entering a new phase of Bieber-dom. Bieber as underdog – filling the void that was once occupied by Taylor. He is creating entertaining, catchy music (I won’t hear arguments on that one, you may not like pop music, and that’s fine, but What Do You Mean is a good solid pop tune). He is opening up to his fans in a way that feels genuine (see: crying on stage at the VMAs), he’s returning to his roots by reminding us that he has been crushing drum sets since he was a tiny toddler. He’s even singing live. And…it seems to be working.
I feel the tide turning on Bieber. As a long-time fan – yes I wear that badge proudly – I’m starting to see the haters cautiously change their tune. This poor kid who didn’t know what to do with his insta-fame, is starting to figure it out. He’s learned that his flaws can be his biggest stepping-stones to greatness, in a way Taylor did in the early days, i.e., when she wrote about being told she couldn’t sing in “Mean.” And unlike Swift who is sitting pretty for the first time atop the pop-music throne, Justin has been there before. He knows what it means to be on top, and so I don’t think he’ll chase it as narrowly, or as methodically, as Taylor has been these past few years. And I think that will only mean longer endured success.
So I ask you – is Justin Bieber the next Taylor Swift? Has pop music found its new underdog? Only time will tell, but this “Baby” loving twenty-something is betting big on the Biebs.
5 Best Videos of the Week – Stereogum
Laura Marling’s new track “Where Can I Go” – Stereogum
13 Must-See Musical Acts at SXSW – The Daily Beast
The Smashing Pumpkins Announce World Tour – Pitchfork
32 Greatest Justin Timberlake Dance Moves of All Time – Buzzfeed Music