I had no idea that just one exposure could bring on the fever. I walked into that cinema without a hint of what was about to take grip within me; against my best judgements, my best intentions and possibly my best taste I left the cinema with the fever.
The Bieber Fever!
Yes, at the ripe old age of 48 I have to confess that I have fallen victim to the teen fever that is spreading rampantly throughout the western world. And the perpetrator of the illness is the 17 year old Justin Bieber.
Like all great infatuations I am in the heady first stages and can’t find anything to not admire in this young man. I love his voice, his looks, his attitude, his love for his family and what appears to be genuine humility. He looks as though he would be a nice friend.
And like all infatuations I don’t want to hear anything negative about him. I don’t want to think about the pray sessions that happen before each concert, the fact that he has virtually no friends his own age or the fact that he could easily crash and burn before he turns twenty or worse still grow into a strange adult which we’ve seen happen to many a young star once the fame becomes too great.
But I’m not worrying about any of that. No. I’m allowing myself to be completely besotted by the talented youngster.
Yep, I know, I’ve got it bad. Sad really considering my age but I think I have a propensity for this sort of fever. It started when I was eight. I saw Jamie Redfern at the Mt Isa Irish club.
It was a Saturday afternoon show and I wore knee high white socks, black paten leather party shoes, a blue floral voile peasant blouse and blue linen hot pants; an overall stunning ensemble.
I can’t really remember any of the songs from the concert but I remember the feeling and Jamie Redfern’s glee and stage presence and the glamour and the glitz. I loved it. All the little girls stood at the front and collectively shrilled and waved our arms in the air. I didn’t really know why I was doing it but I did know that I liked it.
I usually know the songs and the music of the singers that get me all hot under the collar; until seeing the movie ‘Never Say Never’ I had never heard a Justin Bieber song, probably would not have recognised a Justin Bieber song if I had heard one and didn’t know the lyrics to any of his songs. He did not exist in my world nor in the world of anyone I know. I went to see the movie with my sixteen year old daughter who was not a fan but who bluntly said the movie was an ‘inspiration’. She insisted that I would find it inspirational too. And she was right.
Bieber mainly sings about romantic love, which he probably knows little about, but I find when I listen to him I don’t really listen to the lyrics. I listen to the sound and it is pure and clean. He hits notes in a way that makes you want to soar. And his shows soar. He has beautiful dancers and of course he can dance himself; he has fantastic back up singers and musicians on stage with him; wonderful sound systems, laser lights, exploding things – the works. But then he’ll pull out the guitar and do an acoustic rendition of something and you feel it all over again. Strip away all the extras and you still have a wonderful talent. It’s mesmerising.
Bieber could not be more perfectly put together if he had been constructed as all American avatar. At times I wondered whether he actually was. He is good looking in that way that only mid-Western Christian Americans can be; full lips, perfect complexion, and full firm cheeks. His eye contact is straight on and he knows exactly how long to hold it for. He has nothing to hide. But his crowning glory is his hair, his beautiful thick dark blonde hair. It is perfectly cut, so that it swishes liberally but always falls back into the same place. One funny scene in the movie shows various members of his entourage imitating the ‘Bieber hair flick’ but lacking either the goods, the skill or the cool conviction.
Bieber Fever mainly seems to inflict itself upon girls, with the largest demographic represented by those in the eight to fourteen year old age bracket. The biggest honour a Bieber fan can have bestowed upon them is to be randomly picked from the audience to join Bieber on stage when he sings the love ballad, ‘One Less Lonely Girl'. The ‘chosen one’ gets taken onto the stage and placed on a stool in full view of the entire audience. Justin and his entourage continue to sing and gyrate around her. The ‘chosen one’ is usually in such a state of exulted ecstasy that the only emotion pure enough to convey this ecstasy is tears; lots and lots of tears. Some of the ‘chosen ones’ look as though they may require medical assistance!
In the Never Say Never movie the ‘One Less Lonely Girl’ who receives the most footage is a blonde girl of about fourteen who appears to be completely unadorned. She is not dressed in a ridiculously sexualised outfit and has no make up or heels. She wears shorts, a singlet and rubber thongs and sits on the stool as though on a basketball bench. She weeps and looks beautiful. My only moment of blanching during this sickly sweet constructed moment was when Bieber touches the tender girl on the face and upper arms. The gestures are too intimate and I felt slightly uncomfortable. But then I thought it’s probably the only time Justin gets to be up close to a fourteen year old so he probably finds it exciting. She certainly did. Later, the camera shows her back in the audience and she looks as one does when they have just experienced something of ecstatic proportions, like the birth of a child or the laying to peace of a loved one.
Bieber is Canadian and was raised, predominantly, by his mother and his maternal grandparents in their modest home in a small town. His father was marginally present in his Bieber's life but the film indicates that though he was not consistent in his son’s life he is terribly proud and engaged with his current journey.
From a young age Bieber was banging out drum beats on anything that could provide sound. From the age of about eight he was confidentially singing and playing the guitar and by ten he was busking in public places to, according to the movie, the delight of neighbours who would open their windows to allow his pure vocals to filter through their houses. The video footage of this age is beautiful; he appears to be completely devoid of any self consciousness and the strong voice just seems to flow out of him. This is the element that attracted the likes of Usher, Scooter and LA Reed and convinced them that he was worth banking on.
Bieber came to the attention of people via You Tube. He and his mother recorded a few of his songs and put them up on You Tube. People started to watch them, recommended them to others and like the virus that social connectivity can be the word about him spread widely and quickly. He become an almost over night sensation.
He is a prodigious tweeter and thousands of people follow his tweets. And when he comes to town, well his followers really go off. Girls line the streets for days to buy tickets to concerts and also to perhaps grab a glimpse of him.
I do recognise that the Never Say Never movie is probably Bieber’s biggest self promotional tool to date, but as with all good theatre, for the period of the film I suspended disbelief and found myself all overcome, all titivated, all a fevered.