News Column

Justin Bieber Has Grown Into His Role of Superstar

Oct. 17, 2012

Piet Levy

Justin Bieber

We've seen Justin Bieber the Boy in Milwaukee. Sunday at the BMO Harris Bradley Center, local Beliebers will see Justin Bieber the Man.

The pop superstar is 18 now, and with his adult status his music has grown up a bit, evident by his June album, "Believe."

In place of chirpy singles like "Baby" and "Never Say Never" are the breathy, R&B cool of "Boyfriend" and the EDM-infused electricity of "As Long As You Love Me."

It's a tricky transition, moving from kid idol to legit grown-up star, and one that's often fraught with failure. But if anything, Bieber is more popular now than he was when he made his Milwaukee debut at Summerfest 2010.

It's not just his looks, although that's clearly a big part of his celebrity. It's not just his playful personality, which his mom, Pattie Mallette, recently told the Journal Sentinel was a mix of Bart Simpson, Dennis the Menace and Zack Morris from "Saved by the Bell."

It's not even just about his singing voice, or his lovey-dovey songs set to a peppy pop beat.

The reason why so many love Bieber is that he's been able to forge what is arguably a stronger bond with his fans than any teen idol who came before him.

He's the first pop superstar of the social media generation. He wasn't groomed for stardom like former Disney talents such as Miley Cyrus or the Jonas Brothers. He was found in 2007 by manager Scooter Braun singing songs on homemade videos on YouTube, when he was just 13. He isn't mysterious, or totally inaccessible. He constantly shares his feelings with fans through Facebook and Twitter.

Bieber's music video for "Baby" is the most watched of all time on YouTube with 787 million views. He's the second most popular person on Twitter with nearly 29 million followers. He has even more followers on Facebook -- close to 47 million.

His current "Believe" tour kicked off Sept. 29 in Glendale, Ariz., and runs for 46 dates in North America through January.

"It's larger than life," Mallette said of the tour, which is directed by dance choreographer and filmmaker Jon M. Chu, who directed the 3-D Bieber concert documentary "Never Say Never."

Media photos and fan videos support her statement. Bieber makes his grand entrance by flying onto the stage with giant wings made of cymbals and guitars, and the lavish stage show is stocked with slick choreography and eye-popping multimedia production.

According to Forbes, promoter AEG Live is giving Bieber $80 million to perform 125 shows. It seems to have been a good investment. Bieber's Summerfest show -- June 27, 2010, to be exact, a date local Beliebers will forever cherish -- eventually sold out. But all the U.S. dates for Bieber's current tour reportedly sold out within an hour of the tickets going on sale to the public.

"I don't think there's another tour (this year) that has had the same level of demand as Justin Bieber," said Gary Bongiovanni, editor-in-chief of concert tracking trade publication Pollstar.

"That kind of heat doesn't last forever, . . . but that kind of heat is incredible. It's his moment."



Source: (c)2012 the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Distributed by MCT Information Services.