Justin Bieber: What You Need to Know

The abundance of pop culture out there means that things are going to slip by, especially when they’re targeted to a different demographic. Which is why I feel like I’ve seen a large number of comments recently from people who have no clue who Justin Bieber is. (It’s kind of reminiscent of when everyone was confused by that Fred kid, including the fact that they even look a little bit alike.)

I wouldn’t argue that being familiar with the Canadian-born pop star/teen idol is essential for complete pop culture awareness, but for those interested in what the kids are into these days, here are some things you need to know about Justin Bieber if you are over the age of 21.

He’s from Stratford in Ontario, Canada

The reason this is worth noting is because that is far far away from the hustle and bustle of the American music industry. It’s also far away from some of Bieber’s friends and family, which is how Bieber got his start on YouTube: According to Reuters, Bieber’s mother first started uploading clips of him performing in 2007 (at the age of 13) because the video files were too big to email to friends and family. Once he built a following, he was discovered by manager Scooter Braun — a story that echoes Justin Timberlake’s discovery of Esmee Denters. Except that unlike Denters…

He’s gotten very successful very fast

Largely unknown until midway through 2009 to even the teen set, Bieber has exploded since even before the release of his first, My World, which has gone platinum and given Bieber performing opportunities ranging from It’s On With Alexa Chung to the White House. His YouTube channel has almost 150,000,000 million views, making his channel the #72 most viewed channel of all time, and the third most viewed in Canada. Why?

The kids frakking love him

I’m not just talking about this three-year-old girl (who, per the video description, “didn’t take a nap and [thus] was very emotional”). Despite claims that the under-18 set doesn’t use Twitter, Bieber has 1.4 million Twitter followers and is frequently a trending topic of discussion.

In fact he’s so popular that a riot, in which six people were injured, broke out at the Long Island Roosevelt Field Mall in November 2009 because he canceled a performance. (In an odd twist, record executive James A. Roppo was arrested on felony charges because he didn’t Twitter out a cancellation notice; he’s since plead not guilty.) Plus…

He generates interesting reactions from the rest of the web community

YouTube vloggers constantly invoke his name for views, including What the Buck’s Michael Buckley, who enlisted a Canadian correspondent to report on local feelings about the teen sensation.

And don’t even get comedian Aziz Ansari started about Bieber — or, to be specific, don’t get Ansari’s alter ego Raaaaaaaaaandy (first created for the film Funny People) started, as the stand-up comedian is convinced that Bieber’s latest hit, Baby, rips him off.

He sings like a girl

Listen to this before you argue with me, especially when you consider that in Baby, he’s pretty much singing the typical girl part in a hip-hop tune — it’s not hard to imagine Rihanna or Alicia Keys filling in for him. The only reason I deem this worthy of mentioning is that his career might not have much longevity when his voice breaks. I mean, he might end up sounding like this. But puberty is fickle.

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