If you hear spontaneous shrieks today (Oct. 5) or see young girls uncontrollably shaking and crying, don't worry. Those are just two symptoms of Bieber Fever. And today, Fresno is infested.
Teen pop prince Justin Bieber, the latest heart-throb-of-the-moment, brings his "Believe" tour to Save Mart Center today. Tickets have been sold out since a couple minutes after they went on sale June 2.
It's likely teen girls have crafted signs and T-shirts saying things like "I'm the No. 1 Belieber" or "Marry me, Justin." They've counted down the days and clutched their tickets like cherished heirlooms. And now we're mere hours away from the 18-year-old's first Fresno concert.
"I think it's great for Fresno, I really do," says Miggy Santos, the morning show and assistant music director at radio station Y101 (KWYE, FM 101.1). "I'm happy that they chose Fresno. This is a true superstar. He's the biggest thing right now and for him to come to Fresno, it's a big deal."
Nobody will question Bieber's current popularity. He has a rabid fanbase that includes 28-million Twitter followers. This year he's put out a two-part prime-time network TV special, and he had scored the biggest first-week album sales of the year until Mumford & Sons bested him last week.
But the real question with Bieber is his future. Will his career fizzle? Or is he Justin Timberlake 2.0 -- someone who can turn teen pop fame into a long-term success?
"Do I think he's going to be around 10 years from now?" Santos says. "Probably not. He's probably going to be managing people, kind of like Usher did for him. That's the way pop music is now, trying to always find that next new thing. Rock music? They stay for 10 years. Look at Metallica. Look at Muse."
Santos points out one thing that many people may not realize: As ubiquitous as Bieber is, he's never had a No. 1 single.
Perhaps that's because his opening act, Carly Rae Jepsen, dominated the charts this summer with her song "Call Me Maybe" -- effectively drowning Bieber's recent hits "Boyfriend" and "As Long as You Love Me."
Or maybe it's because his fans worship the idea of Justin Bieber more than the music.
But if you ask Jepsen, she's sure that we'll see Bieber go a long way.
"Justin's going to be here for keeps," she says. "First of all, his personality, the guy is so grounded for being the pop star that he is. On top of that, he's just very creative, a true, true musician."
New era pop star
It many ways, it's unfair to say that Bieber's future is doomed just because Jordan Knight, Nick Carter or other teen pop stars never surpassed their early fame. We live in a different era now.
"He's one of the early kings of social media," says Chris Mooney, the director of artist promotions for TuneCore, a digital music distributor that places artists' music on iTunes, Spotify, etc. "He's got this connectivity with his fans that a lot of other artists who have fizzled out maybe didn't have."
Like many before him, Bieber has become a punch line to people outside his dedicated flock. They see his music as a disposable commodity. But if you ask Manuel Artigas, 30, of Clovis, a lot of people are selling Bieber short.
"I was never a fan. I would always make fun of my friends who listened to him," Artigas says. "But my niece got really into him. When his movie came out, I actually watched it on Netflix. I thought, man, this kid has some talent. It gave me a different perspective on him."
Artigas points to the fact that Bieber plays various instruments and has that "Never Say Never" mantra as two signs that Bieber might not be as disposable as some think.
"If Justin stays on the path that he's on," Artigas says. "I'm pretty sure he'll be fine."
Monica Mendoza, 36, of Easton, isn't as keen on Bieber's future prospects. It's because of her two daughters and her niece, ages 8 to 12, that she tracked down tickets to tonight's concert.
"I don't think he'll last," Mendoza says. "I think he'll have a good run, maybe a couple more years. It's the same thing as Miley Cyrus. At one point her concerts were huge. I just don't see her doing much now.
"I bought his first album for my kids. I enjoyed the music as much as they did. As his little voice is changing, and he's getting older, I'm enjoying him less and less. But my daughters still love him."
And for that reason, when Bieber zig-zags around the stage tonight, she won't let her Bieber Skepticism ruin her daughters' Bieber Fever.
She says, "Let them enjoy themselves."
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