I donâ€™t mind being proved wrong, especially when the truth forces me to reconsider my dearly held cynical beliefs. Read this if youâ€™ve always wanted to see me taken down a notch.
The average age of pop stars is about a decade lower than it was during my teens and maybe even lower than that â€” it was fairly rare for teenagers to listen to other teenagers on the radio until the late 1990s. Before then, if you were preternaturally talented at 12 and able to sing circles around voting-age performers, these were the options in ascending order: middle school talent show, county fair, local musical theater and â€œStar Search.â€
And those who went all the way to â€œStar Searchâ€ did not get instant recording contracts. Justin Timberlake joined the â€œMickey Mouse Clubâ€ after singing in front of Ed McMahon, but the hits did not start until his late teens, and commercial success notwithstanding, J.T. did not hit his creative stride until a few years ago. With rare exceptions (New Edition, New Kids on the Block, Debbie Gibson, Tiffany), you were old enough to have a hit when you were old enough to legally order a vodka tonic.
But that changed with Hanson in 1997 and the wave of Britney Spears-led teen-pop that followed two years later, and it continues today with Justin Bieber. Now, if you wait until drinking age to stage your worldwide pop domination strategy, youâ€™re a geezer. Hobble off to college, grandpa â€” you had your chance and you blew it.
Iâ€™ve never been a fan of the phenomenon because growing up can be horrifying without the media capturing every single moment. The horror stories are out there without me cataloging them.