You can joke about Justin Bieber's lesbianism all day. But the Biebz reigns supreme. Powered by asexual androgyny and cotton-candy songcraft, his music has infected tween girls, their mothers, and even, in extreme cases, their fathers. You could be next.
Seriously, if JB didn't look (and sound) like an adorable, immaculately-coiffed cartoon chipmunk, you might call him evil. And so, under threat of succumbing to Bieber Fever, we here at New Times wondered: From whence emerged this potentially dangerous boy wonder?
The shocking answer is Canada, YouTube, and BET.
A Biebz Is Born. On March 1, 1994 , in London, Ontario, Canada, 18-year-old single mother Pattie Mallette gives birth to a baby boy named Justin Drew Bieber. He takes his first breath and immediately launches into the chorus of Ne-Yo's "So Sick," even though the song won't be written for another 11 years.
Learning to Blow. Growing up in Stratford, one of Canada's summer theater hot spots, JB exhibits uncanny musical abilities. According to his mommy (and fan book Justin Bieber), he teaches himself to play the drums while still a toddler. By age 10, he has mastered the guitar, keyboard, and trumpet. It's almost unbelievable!
Second-Place Soprano. Now 12, the boy-wonder enters a brazen American Idol ripoff called Stratford Idol. Interpreting pop classics such as Aretha Franklin's "Respect," Matchbox 20's "3 A.M.," and Alicia Keys's "Fallin'," he dominates the competition. But the judges send him home with the shame of second place all over his face. The winner disappears mysteriously.
YouTube Viewed. Late one night while prowling the Internet for young talent, creepily-named music scout Scooter Braun (born Shmuel Ben Eliezer) stumbles upon a shot-by-mom YouTube video of Bieber in action. Flush with discovery, he whispers to himself: "The Biebz!"
Scooter Cometh. Within months of spotting Bieber on the Internet, Braun tracks him down in real life. The boy's mother Pattie Mallette is creeped out, not by the older man's affection for her son, but his affiliation with Judaism. (She later tells the New York Times: "I prayed, 'God, you don't want this Jewish kid to be Justin's man, do you?'") Nevertheless, Bieber and his mother agree to a management deal with Braun. In October 2008, JB is signed to Island Def Jam Music Group.
The Breakout. Following the November 17, 2009 release of his debut EP My World, the first few cases of full-blown Bieber Fever appear, and the virus spreads at super-speed like weaponized ebola. The symptoms are everywhere: three Top 40 singles, millions of rabid Twitter followers, a Christmas performance for President Obama, a curious BET nomination for Best New Artist, and the hurried launch of JustinBieberWig.com.
Tween Empire. Impervious to all brands of haterade (not to mention antibiotics), Bieber continues his viral takeover of pop culture. His first full-length album My World 2.0 sells almost 300,000 in its first week. And finally, the true scope of this epidemic reveals itself when JB announces plans for a picture-book memoir to be published by HarperCollins and a 3D biopic to be produced by Paramount. Submit to tweendom, peons!