I hesitate to give celebrities even more attention than the obscene amount they already receive, but I feel the need to comment on the folly that is Justin Bieber. The deposition video released last week, in which the Biebs presents his best impression of a sassy, arrogant little butthole, has saturated the Internet. I bring it up not to talk about how douchey the Biebs acts in the video (very douchey) or to discuss how tragic childhood fame can be (very tragic), but to discuss more of a large-scale issue with celebrity culture -- specifically, celebrity music culture. Through all the mug shot, DUI, sex tape scandal bullshit that artists go through, there is some serious talent that is not only being overlooked, but actually being diminished.
I don't think many people realize that Justin Bieber actually does have talent. It doesn't matter if you hate his music with a fiery passion, he possesses musical talent in the most fundamental sense of the term. He sings well, he can play several instruments, and he can write lyrics and music that resonate with a large group of people. Regardless of what he's produced as a musician, the fact is that the potential is (or was) there but is quickly overlooked when he appears on camera with a smug grin saying things like, "I don't have to listen to you."
I think his behavior as of late is the result of many things: the pressure of fame at a young age, the fear of judgement and ridicule, and the fact that he is a sassy little brat that needs to be put in timeout. With all of this working against him, no one is talking about, thinking about, or celebrating him as an artist. He has become a ridiculous joke.
Also in the news of the same genre and (let's be honest) the same look, Miss Billy Ray Jr. herself, Miley Cyrus. Did the recent Miley news story discuss her talent as an artist or how great her latest song is? Of course not. It was about a "wardrobe malfunction" during her latest tour stop in which she had no time to change into one of her costumes and so proceeded to perform the next song in only her bra and panties. As you're probably thinking, this was not much different from her intended attire anyways, but Miss Miley took to Twitter afterwards to explain the incident, which is ironically what caused it to be an incident to begin with.
Again, it doesn't matter how terrible you think her music is, Miley does have talent as a vocalist. Her cover of Lana Del Ray's "Summertime Sadness" on BBC Radio 1's Live Lounge definitely proved that for me. But she's not appreciated or celebrated as a legitimate artist in any regard. She puts on a shocking spectacle for the public, just as the Biebs does, and it erases the possibility of legitimate musical talent from our minds. The way our society treats celebrities is to blame for this, just as much as their own absurd behavior is to blame. I see it as a two-way street where both sides are losing and missing out on the potential for great music.
As hipster/indie culture becomes more absorbed by the mainstream, it seems the music typically classified as pop music has ironically become more and more unpopular. I think this has a lot to do with the extravagance and the gimmicks that have come to be associated with popular music, on an artist level as well as an industry level. Sometimes the showiness is intentional and is a necessary part of the art itself. But sometimes it completely detracts from the real, raw talent. And isn't it the talent that makes music what it is? Maybe it's never truly existed, but I wish we could find a way back to that simplicity. To the place where talent and artistry is celebrated first, and the gimmicks take a back seat. I'd like to see a pop music industry that looks like that.
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