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Fight Club: Justin Bieber
Should Beliebers still believe?

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 weigh in.

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 Facebook page!

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 Beethoven.

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.

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