Music

Five moments that changed Justin Bieber's life

How exactly did the teen pop phenomenon go from singing covers on YouTube to being one of the most famous popstars in the world?

An internet sensation is born

If Justin Bieber had known when he was 12 years old that the clip his mum posted of him singing Ne-Yo's So Sick at a talent show would be watched millions of times he probably would have dressed a bit more like a pop superstar in waiting. Still, despite looking, with his tucked in shirt and smart tie, like he's about to go for his first communion, he's surprisingly soulful for someone who, at that point, had probably never been So Sick of anything except eating too many sweets.

Watch Justin Bieber singing So Sick




His discovery – meeting Usher

Those first videos that Justin's mum posted paid off when marketing man Scooter Braun stumbled upon them in 2008. He called up his friend Usher and pretty soon Justin was performing in front of the R&B superstar and record label boss in Atlanta. Usher had been a child star himself (signing his first record deal at 13) so he knew all about the difficult path towards adult stardom. He was also very conscious of the commercial value of a white kid singing "black" music, just as Elvis's first label boss Sam Phillips had been more than 50 years before. Usher and Justin hit it off and, three years later when they duetted on Somebody To Love, it was already difficult to know who was the bigger star, despite the fact that Usher has had three consecutive number one albums in the US Billboard charts.


Watch Somebody To Love by Justin Bieber




Getting his swag on

Usher's next move was to appoint one of his assistants, Ryan Good, as Justin's road manager and, just as importantly, "swagger coach." You could already see the results of those lessons on his debut single One Time, where he started casually dropping expressions like "shawty" and "I'mma tell you one time," as though he'd been a ghetto superstar all his life. It was this addition of a little bit of "swagger" to his baby-faced charm that took him from being the human equivalent of a cute kitten on YouTube and turned him into a global phenomenon.


Watch One Time by Justin Bieber




Getting mass appeal

Justin Bieber's famous for the demented passion and enthusiasm of his fans but you don't become a megastar on the back of a few million fanatical teenage girls. You need to sell to the mums and the grandmothers and, even, one or two boys as well. That was why Baby was such a success. To the "Beliebers", as Justin's fans are known, it showed their hero growing up in real time, falling in and out of love and getting some paternal advice from Ludacris. To everyone else (except the dreaded "haters" of course) it was actually a very nice pop song.


Watch Baby by Justin Bieber




Overcoming scandal

There's always a tricky moment in the career of any teen idol when sex rears its ugly head. He could get away with the puppy love of One Time at 15 but somebody evidently decided, at the end of 2011, that he was ready for something a little more risqué. So it was that, in the video for All I Want For Christmas Is You he got to gawp at Mariah Carey dressed as a sexy Santa. Never mind that to Justin, Mariah probably seemed about 103. It was all very innocent stuff but it coincided with another traditional rite of passage for the young male superstar: a paternity suit. 19-year old Mariah Yeater claimed that she'd had a brief encounter with the star after a show and ended up pregnant. However, she seemed to back off somewhat when he promptly agreed to take a paternity test.


Watch All I Want For Christmas Is You by Justin Bieber and Mariah Carey


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29-02-2012