On Music: Justin Bieber: ‘I’m not pop or R&B’
By Jim Hagerty
It seems Justin Bieber has learned the art of giving a strong interview—somewhat.
In a recent MTV News interview, Bieber’s attempt to be witty, proving he’s a true-to-his-craft, free-spirited artist, spoke volumes. What he may have overlooked is how his music—for what it is—simply doesn’t support his description of the product.
“Whatever music I write,” Bieber said, “I wouldn’t say I’m pop or R&B or country or anything. I would just say it’s just good music.”
While some fans may give Bieber a fist-pump for staying true to himself, others may scratch their heads in wonderment as to where they may have heard such a statement before.
It doesn’t take long to remember how artists like Bob Dylan, and a host of others who’ve crossed genres with sizable catalogs, make such claims about their material. Dylan has always been open about it, having written blues, country, rock and pop tunes.
Naturally, Justin Bieber, with four top 20 singles and millions of fans, should have a rightful seat next to songwriters and performers who simply do their own thing and let listeners decide where the music should fall. Think again.
Ever since Bieber was discovered “Michael Jacksoning” all over YouTube and producers learned the kid from Canada had the makings of a branding gold mine, much of the listening public began to hear the music—over and over again.
“Whatever comes out of my mouth is just what you guys are going to hear,” Bieber said.
The world hears, all right. Droves of teenagers who follow Bieber on Twitter and caravan in Deadhead style can’t get enough of lyrics like “baby, baby, baby, oooo” and “Oooo pretty lady don’t you think it’s crazy, she’s my Latin girl.”
Sure, lyrics are just words. Some of the most powerful jazz, blues, country and rock songs have simple, on-the-surface lyrics, begging the question, could, “baby, baby, baby, oooo,” be an ingredient in a solid, timeless song that could be stripped-down and cross-marketed?
The answer: possibly. But, even the most straightforward writers on the planet come up with better. Unless, of course, they are penning a Justin Bieber song—a pop tune.
Simply stated, the world should have expected Justin Bieber to make the attempt to remove labels from his material. For that statement to be this early in his career is another story. So far, there’s only been one label to remove since Bieber was discovered going on three years ago.
Making an actual attempt to break genre barriers is commonly required before making indicative statements—similar to finding one’s own style while dropping the Michael Jackson routine.
From the Jan. 5-11, 2011
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