Column originally published on the StudentStandard.ie
Just this afternoon on her train, Bank Holiday Tuesday (BHT) noticed many “tweenage” girls in short shorts and brightly coloured baseball caps. I wondered if I had in fact fallen through a wormhole to 1993. No, these were just the final stragglers returning from staking out the Merrion Hotel where Justin Bieber was staying. Oh Bieber fever. When I was a girl it was Spice World and Boyzone – we were big into pandering the gender binary to little girls in my day and viewed the new wave of co-ed pop groups with suspicion. Liberty X and Hearsay and all that MIXING of the SEXES! It was too much for my little 9 year old head. Now we’re back to the nice binary system of boys in one group, girls in another. Now some don’t even NEED band mates: we have Taylor Swift and Justin Bieber to aspire to.
I drove past the point depot with my Ma last night and marveled at all the cars parked around- way more than you’d usually see waiting after a gig. When I heard it was Bieber I realised this must be an army of mums and dads waiting anxiously to pick up their darlings from the concert, possibly chaperoned by cool older sisters or younger aunties. There is something strangely cult like about Bieber. I think his hair has nanobots in it, controlling the little girls via electron pulses. That is the only way I can justify his alarmingly hysterical popularity. Maybe he’s a cult leader. I think Anonymous needs to get onto him, to be honest. He could be sacrificing virgins to Xenu for all we know.
But seriously, let us all be fair. Bieber is pretty easily avoidable in music fan terms. He doesn’t get that much radio play and he’s not on the music channels (yes this is how BHT experiences her music because it is still 2003 in her head…) and the level of hate he produces online is about equal to that of Osama bin Laden. People haaaaate this kid. BHT is not sure why. As far as pop crooners pandering to little girls go, he’s certainly not the worst. Often I hear people complaining that kids are listening to shit music these days. Eh, yeah, because that’s what kids do. You have to go through a stage where you listen to total twaddle before you catch five seconds of, say, Joni Mitchell’s Blue played by your mother at 3AM on a Sunday and you understand.
We need shitty pop music slopped out by the mainstream labels: if we didn’t we would have no way of obscuring our gems so they don’t get sucked in by the mainstream. Let the little girls work themselves into a state of weeping hysteria. Let them get it out of their systems now in one fearsome dose of fever: the Bieber fever. Bad music is, to BHT, a rite of passage we must all take. We don’t all have parents with extensive Rory Gallagher back catalogues or Uncles who lend you Talking heads ‘77 to help you in your education- some of us curate our tastes slowly, through accumulation. The first Album BHT owned was Avril Lavigne and a best of Britney Spears. Let those without sin cast the first hip hop style diss. Besides, little girls have always listened to inane crap. It’s how Donny Osmond and John Travolta made careers. There is NO POINT trying to play Ani DiFranco to your 3 year old cousin (BHT has tried).
So let it be said now: BHT is defending Bieber. She is defending Bieber because all little girls have to have their shitty music quota filled, so that when they are 24 and sipping ironic PBR at a party in a squat on Camden street wearing one of those absurd furry animal hats, she must still pause before passing judgement on another person’s music taste. It is an anchoring anti hipster force in the world, for no matter how hip and cool any of us will ever be,
There will always be a Bieber Fever scar on our heart.
Niamh ‘I’m about to lose my mind up in hurrr’ Keoghan