It seems like you can’t have a discussion about Canadian music these days without Justin Bieber coming up. And rightfully so, I think.
A couple people brought up the Biebs after my post the other day, both in the comments section and in subsequent conversations on Twitter. Truth be told, I had a follow-up written about why Bieber is better than The Tragically Hip, but I suspect a number of people would try to firebomb my house if I published that. Instead, let’s go with this.
The reason why Bieber—the little dude with the annoying haircut from Stratford, Ontario, who is also one of the world’s biggest pop stars—is relevant to any discussion about modern Canadian music is because of how he became one of the world’s biggest pop stars. He didn’t do it by slogging his way around Canada and touring incessantly and by getting airplay thanks to CanCon rules. He did it the new-fashioned way: through YouTube videos.
If you’re not familiar with his story, here’s a nice summary. Basically, 12-year-old Bieber started posting videos of himself singing pop songs. When the videos started garnering lots of views, he got the attention of big-wig artists and music executives, and the rest is history.
It’s easy to hate on Bieber because of the haircut and because he sings vapid pop songs. But if you’ve never heard the kid sing, you really should. He’s got a good voice and, dare I say it, he’s almost soulful:
Not only is it good to see a local kid done good, it’s also encouraging to see that he did it without any help from the kindly old folks at the CRTC. It really makes the idea of the regulator getting its sticky fingers onto the likes of YouTube that much more repulsive, doesn’t it?
Ironically, Bieber may or may not be considered Canadian under CRTC CanCon rules, which brings back memories of the same crazy situation Bryan Adams had to deal with 20 years ago. The CBC had a great radio feature on the issue at the time, which I highly recommend checking out. As the cliche goes, the more things change, the more they stay the same.