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As One Direction looms, does Bieber have staying power?

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beeb102212.JPG"For me, Justin [Bieber] is ... I've met him, I've worked with him, I did a TV commercial with him. He's a really great little guy. But that's his problem -- he's a little guy."

An oracle speaketh about the future of the Beeb.

"His fans are growing up, they're 18-, 19-year-olds now. And that means the little girls ... they're young women. And he still looks like that little boy!"

Tell us more, oh wise one.

"I just don't think, from my gut -- maybe my gut's wrong, 'cause it's not 100 percent -- but I don't think he's going to stand the test of time."

JUSTIN BIEBER
• 7 p.m. Oct. 23-24
• Allstate Arena, 6920 N. Mannheim Rd. in Rosemont
• Sold out

OK, so this prediction comes from Sharon Osbourne. But whatever you think of her, as the woman who's propped up Ozzy all these years and turned her own family into a successful brand, she knows a little something about the ins and outs of music celebrity -- particularly about pop stars who occasionally throw up on stage -- and, fresh off her latest season as an "America's Got Talent" judge, she's in full-on critical mode.

She's also voicing something that's front-of-mind with many fans -- and probably even Bieber himself. Ours is not a populace, after all, that suffers child stars once they become adult stars. Ask Tiffany, Debbie Gibson, any Backstreet Boy or New Kid. Ask Aaron Carter. Actually, don't -- that particular former tween pop star tweeted last week: "I'm not impressed ... Justin Bieber's new video reminds me of my video 'Aaron's Party.'"

Bieber is 18 now. From the myopic perspective of many pre-teen girls -- his target audience since his 2009 debut -- that means his new music is lumped in with, say, the new track from the Rolling Stones. Yesterday, no matter how far away, is so yesterday.

"Believe" -- Bieber's second proper album, released in June -- has been a modest commercial success, still hovering near the middle of the iTunes and Billboard charts as of last week.

Last week, team Bieber tried to juice interest in a new single and video, "Beauty and the Beat," tweeting that Bieber's computer -- containing footage for his new video and (gasp!) possibly a naked photo of him -- had been stolen. The video quickly appeared online, featuring Bieber grinding on guest rapper Nicki Minaj, a shudder-worthy sight suited for "delete" more than "forward."

The publicity stunt was quickly revealed to be just that, and we couldn't help catch a whiff of desperation in the cheesy plot.

Earlier this year, a Nashville TV news investigation claimed Bieber was essentially scalping his own concert tickets in order to inflate their value.

After being up for so long, there's only one direction left to go -- and that's the real worry for the Beeb. In the rear view mirror (as there always are in pop music) are five guys just like him.

On Sept. 20, the British quintet One Direction debuted its new single, "Live While We're Young." The next day, they'd broken an online record: most views on VEVO (a YouTube competitor) in a 24-hour period, racking up 8.3 million.

A week later, another record: 1D's single sold the most downloads by a non-U.S. artist in its opening week, moving 341,000 copies.

But the Beeb still bites back.

When "Beauty and the Beat" appeared Oct. 12 on Vevo, and within 24 hours the video had racked up 10.6 million views in 24 hours. That not only busted One Direction's record, it was a personal best for Bieber.

Desperate, maybe, but still effective. The single is officially released Nov. 12.

No wonder his response to Osbourne was a simple tweet: "Not worried, Sharon."


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Thomas Conner

Thomas Conner covers pop music for the Chicago Sun-Times. Contact him via e-mail.

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This page contains a single entry by Thomas Conner published on October 22, 2012 8:00 AM.

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