In a world drowning in tweets and likes, it's hard to differentiate the talented from the... not-so-much. Times were simpler in the 90s. There were really only two all-American boy bands, and if you were a teen girl, you picked a side. You were an 'Nsync'er or a Backstreet girl. Now the pop music industry seems to pump every blue-eyed, baby-faced social media star in the faces of teen girls to the point that teens no longer care if the flavor of the month boy is even talented.
MAGCon, or Meet And Greet Convention, is a tour that allows fans to meet and greet their favorite social media stars: teenage boys with millions of followers on Vine and YouTube. For many of them, their claim to fame is their face. That's it. It seems absurd, really. Especially considering some of these 'stars' do not even have a talent. Pop stars have long been estranged from any notion of musical ability (Britney Spears, anyone?); but, the real tragedy is that this new category of stars doesn't even pretend to have a talent. Give us a well choreographed lip-synced performance at the very least, won't you?
For example, there's a six-second snippet of one of these aforementioned boys riding a scissor lift. That's it. Nothing more. This apparently warranted nearly half-a-million likes because isn't that the greatest thing ever? And, for a ticket price of $150, you can get said untalented star's autograph and fall to your knees crying because your heart is going to explode with #somuchlove.
The good news, though, is that social media can be used to bring those who do have a real talent into the spotlight. This gives the Justin Biebers, Austin Mahones, and Cody Simpsons of the world some hope for a foot into the music industry. It gives those who don't share last names with a celebrity a chance to be noticed. But, most importantly, it gives this techie generation an opportunity to express themselves artistically and have someone on the other side of the world sitting in the audience listening and offering meaningful feedback.
Hidden in the gazillions of meaningless Vine videos that make me feel like I am killing my brain cells six-seconds at a time is a 15-year-old playing the guitar and singing from the heart. It makes you stop, sit back in your chair, and think Wow. He's pretty damn awesome.
And, he is.
His claim to fame? Those very same Vine videos. But, instead of using six-seconds to laugh hysterically at the gastrointestinal workings of girls and guys (true story) like his peers, he sings his heart out. He taught himself to play guitar on YouTube, and he playbacks his own recordings to improve and fine tune his performance.
And, someone noticed. His six-second Vine covers landed him a record deal with Island Records. He debuted at number 24 with his first track "Life of the Party" making him youngest artist to debut in Billboard's Top 25. He won Ryan Seacrest's "Best Covers" competition, and he's going on tour this summer with Austin Mahone.
His name is Shawn Mendes. It's a name you'll be hearing often. It's a name you may have heard this morning on Good Day New York, and you'll hear him perform on LIVE with Kelly & Michael later this week. You'll hear his first track, "Life of the Party," over and over on the radio this summer. His first EP will be released later this month before he even turns sixteen.
This fact alone negates the trauma of the scissor lift Vine. It makes me happy to know that a generation of teen girls will swoon over a singer's voice and his ability to connect emotion with the chords of a guitar. Ten years from now they'll hear Shawn Mendes' voice airing at a Starbucks and it will bring smile on their face followed by a flood of memories of concert campouts and crazy crushes.
Because that's the way it should be.
Follow Anjali Joshi on Twitter: www.twitter.com/TheresAnjali