February 7, 2011
Abby has Bieber-Fever
OK, I admit it.
I am a snob.
To be more specific, I am a music snob.
I believe that my music tastes are superior to others around me. Even though I worked at Starbucks on their entertainment team (all self-proclaimed music snobs and purveyors of fine compilation CDs and strong coffee – that makes me qualified, right?), I really have no right to be such a snob.
But, I am a music snob. I love Radiohead and can’t understand when others don’t. I wonder how a band like Coldplay can even exist in today’s world, so bland and lame.
I grew up in the 70’s with the likes of Led Zep, the Stones, Pink Floyd, Fleetwood Mac, and so many other now over-the-hill bands. These artists, all still solid, yet old and no longer as meaningful to the world as they once were. I stood on the field of Tampa Stadium (before it was actually a big sombrero) with a tray of Coca-Cola that weighed more than i did, looking up at the giant pink pig floating above my head. I saw Led Zep play in the rain at that same stadium. I stood in the rain for hours to watch the Eagles on their “The Long Run” tour. (this doesn’t make me cool, just old). I am the all knowing music snob….at least in my own mind.
Today’s music world is dominated by people like Lady Gaga, The Black Eyed Peas, Usher, Ke$sa (seriously, we’re now spelling our names with $ signs in them?), Katy Perry, and one Mr. Justin Bieber. I do not understand any of them. They sell hundreds of records (ok, cheap shot…sorry), sell out music venues, and appear on all the right tv shows. (I still don’t get them. It’s not because i am cool – it’s because i am old).
A little over a year ago my 14 year old daughter Abby told me about Justin Bieber. She walked into the kitchen one day and said, “I love Justin Bieber”. I had no idea who he was or where he was coming from. Was he a new boyfriend? Was he a new crush at school? No – he was a new artist that seemingly came out of the digital abyss.
Abby played a song for me, with a smile on her face and a twinkle in her eye. She sang along, not missing a word.
As you can imagine, I immediately rejected Justin Bieber as a flash in the pan. Someone who, like most overnight sensations, would be gone in a week. After all, he came from YouTube for crying out loud. I explained to Abby that this wasn’t music. This was disposable noise (are you kidding me? How freaking old am i?…….i sound like I am 60).
This love affair continued for a few more months until “Bieber Fever” (as they say) completely consumed my daughter. There were concerts to attend, backstage meet & greets, photos for Facebook, hearts drawn on the back of her hand with his initials and hers surrounded by a heart. The screen saver on our upstairs computer now featured a shot of this kid. There was no escape. Bieber fever was everywhere in my house. Posters, blankets, t-shirts, wrist bands, buttons, notebooks, magazines, and so on.
At this point Abby declares, “Justin is going to win a Grammy this year”. Because I am a music snob (see above comments about working for the tastemaker of compilation CDs – Starbucks) I rejected my daughter’s comments as foolish. I said to her that there was no way he was even going to be nominated for a Grammy, much less win one. I jokingly said he wouldn’t even be invited to the Grammy’s. (I did this because I know everything).
After about 6 months of this nonsense Abby once again walked into the kitchen and proclaimed, “I am going to marry Justin Bieber”. Ok, so now things are starting to get serious. I decided that if my first-born daughter was going to marry this guy that I better explore him, make sure he is going to take care of her once the ceremony has concluded.
I listened to a few of his songs. I listened to them again. I tried a third time. I could find no reason whatsoever why my little girl would be in love with this kid. But, it didn’t matter – she did. The love affair has now gone on for more than a year. Abby has more than 1,000 Bieber photos on her phone and there was nothing I could do to stop it. MY wife Allie understood from the minute this love affair began. (she still not-so-secretly loves Donny Osmond for crying out loud).
As hard as a music snob like me tries to fight it (and I do fight hard because I am never wrong…how could I possibly be wrong?). As much as I have tried to expose my daughters to the classics like the Beatles, Stones, and the many other now over the hill artists I still cling to, I’ve realized that I have lost the battle. It really makes no difference what I like. As I look at Abby I realize that her love for Bieber is real. I see how it makes her feel. I see her smile, possibly in the same way my parents used to see me smile when I was rocking out to Tom Petty or Kiss in my bedroom all those years ago wondering why I didn’t love Blood, Sweat, & Tears or “old BS&T” as my Dad once said…..yes Dad, I will always remember that moment!).
Not only am I a snob – I am also an idiot not to realize sooner that just because I don’t like someone’s music that it can still bring joy, happiness, and memories to the ones around me. I see the joy in my daughter’s eyes, her hope filled heart, and her beautiful smile and I realize that this kid is the one responsible for giving this to her. Bieber brings a joy to her that her father simply can’t deliver and it warms my heart while at the same time breaking it. The beat of music marches on, changing and evolving with each step it takes. It brings some along with it and it leaves many behind. If you want to keep up you need to stay on your toes.
So, while I will likely (ok, I am pretty sure about this – you know, because I used to work at the place that sells strong java, plays jazz overhead, and makes cute Valentine’s Day compilation CDs) not ever like Justin Bieber, I now understand his power and his potential. I see a daughter growing up in front of my eyes, singing, and fully stricken with Bieber fever.
I am still a snob. And, now i realize that I am also an idiot. I am not the all knowing, all powerful music expert. I am just a fan. I love the way music makes me feel. I love the fact that songs, artists, and concerts have served as mile markers in my life. Just like my beautiful little girl Abby.
But now I have a slightly different perspective on the world. I sit here, typing these words to you as a confession that I was wrong. I was wrong – with the exception of Coldplay. My views on them stand. They remain unnecessary.
A year later, Abby was right – Justin Bieber was nominated for a Grammy and will perform for the crowd this Sunday night. I will sit in the darkness of the Staples Center watching this spectacle unfold in front of my eyes, knowing that Abby is sitting in front of the tv, smiling and singing along.
I leave you with two things.
Abby – you were right.
Justin – Take good care of Abby. If you break my daughter’s heart I will kick your ass.