New chapter on Justin Bieber, tween prodigy, and childhood in new media

As part of a larger project about the tween music industry, I have a chapter coming out in a volume on child musical prodigies from OUP about Justin Bieber. A pdf preprint is here.

“Justin Bieber, YouTube, and New Media Celebrity: The Tween Prodigy at Home and Online,” forthcoming in Musical Prodigies: Interpretations from Psychology, Musicology and Ethnomusicology, edited by Gary McPherson, Oxford University Press.

This chapter examines the cultural values of childhood and commerce that inform tween popular music star Justin Bieber’s portrayal as a musical prodigy, focusing on the 2011 concert film Never Say Never. While children’s active participation in popular culture conflicts with social norms emphasizing children’s place in the home, this chapter argues that forms of “new media”—especially home videos that both Bieber and his fans share on sites like YouTube—help to resolve those conflicts, by contextualizing popular music performance in the everyday spaces of childhood family life. The chapter explores themes of family and childhood domesticity, gender and the intersections between childhood and girlhood culture, disconnects between musical ability and commercial success, and the relationship between musical prodigies and child stars.

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