By Martha Brockenbrough and Mark Brown Special to MSN Music
Justin Bieber's back -- but he never
went away. With a steady string of well-timed singles, appearances, perfumes and
even parodies, he has kept himself in the public eye ahead of his new album,
"Believe." Will his fans stay Beliebers? Martha Brockenbrough and Mark Brown
Martha Brockenbrough: It's easy to hate Justin Bieber. He was
responsible for the worst trend in male haircuts since George Clooney brought back the
Caesar. He wears low pants, has a signature fragrance and talks like a gangster
when we all know he's from Canada. But I refuse to drink the haterade.
For all his faults, the Biebs has a remarkable life story. He's the child of
a low-income teen mom who taught himself to sing and play a variety of
instruments, and he managed to get himself discovered and parlay all of that
into a global empire more quickly than many of us can decide what color to paint
the family room.
Are you on Team Bieber or an non-Belieber? Tell us on MSN Music's
Whether you like his music or not, there's no denying the kid has talent and
drive -- two things in stunningly short supply today, especially in boys, if you
believe the headlines. Imagine if more kids had that kind of vision and
commitment. I, for one, would not worry as much about the future.
Mark Brown: It's actually hard to hate Bieber or the eternally
preening Taylor Swift; if you don't like the
"talent," you've got to admire the drive. But it's plenty easy to be
annoyed by them. The Beatles had one of the most managed,
carefully crafted images in music history, but there was an underlying
authenticity (and, of course, superb music). Bieber feels less like a musician
than a Doritos product rollout: songs by committee, key placements with big
names, using every trick in the book. Even his self-deprecating bit with Jimmy
Fallon -- which makes me laugh every time I see it -- feels micro-managed to the
nth degree. I've heard his music, I've seen him live -- and I have no idea who
this guy really is.
Martha Brockenbrough: Oh, I am so glad you're not extending
your net of hate to include Taylor Swift. I'd have to hunt you down and play a
heartfelt ballad in your FACE.
The Biebs and Taylor Swiffer might be annoying. (But please, don't miss this
Mad TV parody of the Swiffer.) That
said, if a whiff of annoyingness becomes a reason to dismiss a pop culture
legend, I'm going to cross my arms and say "Yellow Submarine" in your general
direction. Even geniuses take us on a bad trip now and then.
Which is not to say that Justin Bieber is a genius. But he does actually play
instruments. He can sing. He writes music. These three things put him ahead of
the vast majority of today's pop stars, who make Milli Vanilli look like Mozart and
Do you really think if the Beatles came out today they wouldn't be sucked
into the same giant industry machine and excreted with their own fragrance?
(Smells like strawberry fields!) In a similar vein, if you stuffed Justin Bieber
in a time machine and sent him back, don't you think he could hold his own
against other teen heartthrobs?
Mark Brown: Nothing's the same today -- the Beatles, Elvis, Stones, U2, etc.