Are Justin Bieber And Selena Gomez The Justin Timberlake And Britney Spears Of A New Generation?

08/02/2011 04:24 pm ET | Updated Oct 02, 2011

There's nothing like an old pair of jeans. They're broken-in, comfortable and every stain and rip gives us a roadmap of where they've been. When it comes to generation defining teen idols, whether they be bell-bottomed, acid washed or skinny, they're not much different. We want them to remind us of who came before them and to fit comfortably in pop culture iconography without sacrificing their modern relevance -- the reason why they are the chosen ones.

Not since Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake we haven't been able to add a few new inches to this denim history. Forget Miley Cyrus, The Jonas Brothers, Taylor Swift or Demi Lovato, when it comes to the kind of adolescent defining figures we count on to differentiate our generation from another, a new couple has been taxed with the great responsibility -- Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez.

They come from humble beginnings
Forget the new age of momagers and get famous quick schemes (a la Rebecca Black), these couples were the curators of their own success. THEN: Spears hailed from Louisiana while fellow southern boy, Justin Timberlake grew up in Tennessee before both young entertainers landed on The Mickey Mouse Club. NOW: Texas born Selena Gomez similarly got her start on a sweet little singing show, "Barney & Friends" while Bieber's star rose via YouTube -- maybe there still is something to be said for legitimate talent.

At the early stages, they were all pretty innocent
Just as TImberlake and Spears staked their fame as the pure and innocent couple of the 90s so have Bieber and Gomez. THEN: With pigtails for Spears and a cute curly mop for Timberlake, the duo put parents at ease while still letting kids think that we were a part of something cool and a little bit daring (Britney may have been "saving herself" for marriage but we all knew she was "not that innocent"). NOW: Similarly, 17-year-old Bieber may look like he's only pushing 14, but he's got more than a few tats to prove that he's old enough. And Gomez may have a button nose that makes us all say 'aww' but she's been known to shake it in her less than conservative on-stage getups.

Couples that dress the same, rise to fame
THEN: Pair the word "denim" with Timberlake and Spears' names and any child of the late 80s will know what you're talking about. The, then, resident king and queen of pop walked the red carpet in 2001 at the 28th annual American Music Awards in full denim, matching ensembles -- Timberlake even sported a denim cowboy hat. NOW: Bieber and Selena must have caught wind of their predecessors' ensemble infamy because they too got to matching in Bieber's signature purple plaid button down.

They grow up so fast
As we know, nothing stays pure and sacred forever. THEN: Just as Spears hiked up her skirt and became the epitome of every male's high school fantasy with "Oops, I Did It Again" and Timberlake showed his grown-up moves with "Dirty Pop," Bieber and Selena too began to disregard their pristine reputations and get a little dirty, themselves. NOW: The pair were photographed all over each other, grabbing and groping, while on vacation in Maui.

Although everything is puppy love and sold out tours for the fresh-faced teen idol newcomers now, if Timberlake and Spears are any indication, things could get bumpy. Hold on tight, you two!

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story indicated that Britney Spears was born in Mississippi. Her correct birthplace is Louisiana.

Justin Is To Justin As Britney Is To Selena