Host: And since we're talking about stars, let's talk about Justin Bieber, from Ontario, Canada, who is said to be on his way to total world 1)domination. Like so many Canadians, he's already taken over the teen pop set. Tina Fey注1 couldn't resist him either.
Fey: (on a TV show) What I'm feeling is wrong— 2)morally, 3)ethically and biologically wrong! But I mean, look at him—he's like a 4)dreamy Christmas elf!
Host: Okay, if it affects Tina Fey, it is time to 5)diagnose the Bieber fever. So we go to music 6)commentators Maura Johnston and Jay Smooth.
Johnston: I saw him on Twitter. I saw him at the Easter Egg Roll注2. I've seen him all over the Internet.
Smooth: We've got the thousands of young girls screaming. We've got the 7)floppy hair flopping around.
Johnston: And I do think we have a 8)bona fide teen idol on our hands here. He also has this 9)ridiculously large presence on the Internet.
Smooth: If…if you got to YouTube and search the word “baby,” his video for that song Baby comes up number one, which will let you know how big it is. And you know how popular babies are on YouTube.
Smooth: And Justin Bieber is very 10)savvy about embracing the hate and re-11)tweeting tweets that are negative about him.
Smooth: And he really has a 12)knack for playing the social media game that I don't think your handlers or 13)PR people could teach you.
Johnston: In my day, you could think about maybe seeing New Kids on the Block注3 at the mall, but it was something that was totally unlikely, and that would require various 14)cosmic factors to 15) align. Whereas with Justin Bieber, if you send him a message, the likelihood of him seeing your message and even writing back is much higher. And so it creates this closer bond between fan and idol.
One thing that gets lost a lot in the immediate discussion of teen idols is the music itself.
Smooth: Justin Bieber became famous for being the little white kid from small town Canada that sang black R&B songs on YouTube. He's always surrounded by black R&B artists and rappers, and he got discovered and brought in to be Usher's 16)protégé and sort of 17)emulating that style. But it's still reaching that same audience that was listening to Taylor Swift and Miley Cyrus.
He's sort of this generation's Pat Boone注4 in a way because he's sort of putting a white face on black music. But whereas Pat Boone was making the blackness invisible while letting you get a 18)semblance of black music, Justin Bieber seems to get his credibility from being surrounded by the black artists that he emulates.
So how do you feel personally? Are you wiling to admit yet that you've caught a little Bieber fever?
Johnston: I have a little bit of Bieber fever. I would say my temperature is maybe like 99.9. What about you?
Smooth: You know, well, I gotta say I had the 19)knee-jerk reaction of hate that most adults have. But Justin Bieber himself seems to know that the Justin Bieber phenomenon is 20)absurd. He seems to have just enough musical talents that he might be able to do something I'd really respect five years from now. So I, I'm looking forward to see what he turns into.