In the beginning label managers would move heaven and earth to sign a potential hit maker. But by the time the early naughties rolled around a lot had changed. For one, artists were turning into label owners. Two, YouTube happened.
At 12, Justin Bieber was singing covers and posting them onto the video website. His videos garnered thousands of views and that persuaded Scooter Braun to manage him.
Before his 15th birthday Bieber had Justin Timberlake and Usher vying to sign him. He chose Usher to be his shepherd and for a while he did not want for anything.
The teenager, his manager and mom made the exodus from Canada – where he grew up – and settled in America.
BABY, BABY, BABY, OH
If ever there was an insanely irritating ear worm, Bieber’s single, Baby, would be it.
In 2009 he released his first single, One Time.
But it was only when he put out Baby (featuring Ludacris, even though people usually forget that part) in 2010 that Bieber stopped being small fry and started defeating the Goliath that was an industry resistant to a child taking over.
Baby was written by The-Dream and Tricky Stewart and became a chart-topping ubiquity that created an army of devoted Beliebers.
NEVER SAY NEVER
The rapper formerly known as Mos Def said by saying never say never, you’ve already said never twice. By the time Bieber released a song called Never Say Never, he’d already gone back on his word to never disappoint his fans.
As shown in the Never Say Never documentary film which premièred in cinemas in 2011, Bieber was growing up and he wanted to have fun.
He was getting tired of having to act in front of screaming girls and instead of doing his vocal training, he was damaging his voice by staying out late with friends. After this, it seemed Bieber was done being a kid and then a wrath of plagues, otherwise known as tabloid fodder scandals, was unleashed upon his life.
BEAUTY AND A BEAT
Bieber had and has an adoring female fan base. In 2011, a girl accused him of fathering her child. He took a paternity test and cleared his name.
Instead of making staying out of trouble one of his 10 commandments, Bieber persisted.
In 2012, he started dating Selena Gomez and because paparazzi followed them to the movies, he started a fight with them. He was also caught speeding that same year.
In 2013, the internet went crazy when it was revealed the wrote in the Anne Frank House guestbook that he hoped she would have been a Belieber. Then drugs were found on his tour bus and the revelations that the sweet little boy was no longer there started to unfold.
He spiralled out of control, spitting in people’s Gatorade, fighting fans, and stopped concerts because someone threw a bottle at him. In 2014, he was arrested in Miami for driving under the influence and drag racing.
The grin on his mug shot is funny.
WHERE ARE Ü NOW
Even with all that drama, Bieber has been lucky that his voice is suited for pop and R&B, so he can fit into whatever his sound-scape soldier in scandal, Chris Brown, is pushing and still chart.
It is unfortunate that growing up in front of the paparazzi highlighted all the things that regular rich kids get away with and eventually grow out of, but luckily for Bieber, he’s still in the game.
Only time will tell if the gods of the industry will still bless him or smite him.
* Justin Bieber’s Purpose Tour is at the FNB Stadium on Sunday and at the Cape Town Stadium on Wednesday.