1. → STAY YOUNG AT HEART
It’s a delicate line that all teen idols must walk. Sooner or later puberty hits, and along with the noticeable voice change, pimples and gangly growth spurts comes the realization that you can no longer get by on just being cute. So you allow said teen star to present themselves in a more worldly fashion and talk about more than their favorite candy. It seems team Bieber is already taking the training wheels off of their pubescent superstar.
On the February 18 cover of Rolling Stone, the puppy-eyed crooner is photographed in a I-haven’t-bathed-in-a-month-but-I’m-still-cooler-than-all-you-bitches Sid Vicious-gaze, complete with spiky punk hair and a black leather jacket. His interview is equally jarring as he offers his philosophy—is that even possible at 17?—on sex (“I think you should just wait for the person you’re…in love with…”), America’s healthcare (“You guys are evil,” Bieber joked…Canada’s the best country in the world.”), and gasp!!!.. abortion (“It’s like killing a baby”).
But while such a dramatic image change can lead to a more welcoming sophisticated career (Christina Aguilera went from the Disney-friendly “Genie In A Bottle” to the critically-acclaimed, sexually-charged Stripped), there’s also the case of New Kids on the Block. The once massively popular Boston boy band, who sold close to 80 million albums worldwide, flopped epically when they tried to pass themselves off as streetwise toughs with their widely panned 1994 album Face The Music.
Which is why Bivins says Bieber should be in no rush to grow up. “I would try to stretch his young fan base as long as possible,” Bivins explains. “I think as long as Bieber is king and matures with his audience he will always have a strong hold over his fans. I know that he is 17 now, but he doesn’t have to change his songs lyrically too much. He could still use the word baby…but he just probably shouldn’t triple it up again [laughs]. When it’s time for him to make mature music, as long as its not one extreme to the other, he will be okay.”
But whatever direction Bieber and his team decide to go in, Barshad says the young heartthrob has already proven to be an intriguing act. “You try to understand why this guy has become so popular; why he’s reached this level,” Barshad says of Bieber’s skyrocketing fame. “You think it has to be something that his team has done particularly well. But ultimately, what differentiates Bieber from other acts his age is he is naturally charismatic. He doesn’t need to be coached like a lot of these people such as the Backstreet Boys and N’Sync, who was always shadowed by a shady Svengali like their former manager Lou Pearlman. Obviously, Bieber has industry handlers that have pushed him the right way. But he has been able to make it seem like his fame has happened more organically. And that’s rare.”