Robert Frost: Not a Belieber

There are occasional zeitgeists in our society that reach such a critical mass of cultural participation that they eclipse all else.

There are occasional zeitgeists in our society that reach such a critical mass of cultural participation that they eclipse all else. The phenomenons are so seductive that millions upon millions of people fall sway to their charms. Elvis Presley, The Beatles, and Michael Jackson are good examples.

Justin Bieber is one, too. Riots have broken out on more than one occasion due to the teeny bopper’s popularity with young, frantic girls known as Beliebers. The most recent incident happened in Australia and caused the police to cancel his performance. His haircut has even been memorialized as The Bieber, though many of the young men seeking the look can’t bring themselves to speak its namesake.

Another current point of widespread societal interest is American Idol. Now in its ninth season, the show has spawned huge stars and huge ratings. Billboard just decided that Kelly Clarkson is officially the biggest success story to emerge from the AI diaspora. Although Carrie Underwood has sold more albums, Clarkson wins on sales of singles and radio play.

Chris Daughtry came in third for selling about half the numbers of the girls. But I wonder where Jennifer Hudson landed. I mean, she’s done pretty well for herself considering she was booted and all.

Confession: I’ve never watched an episode. I’m like that. I can’t stand hype. When something is so immensely popular, I’m unequivocally turned off by it. Took me probably a year to give Alanis Morissette’s Jagged Little Pill a proper listen back during her initial world domination phase.

I’ve watched a couple of clips from AI just to understand who someone is… one of which was that girl from Texas this season bleeding all of the life out of Brandi Carlile’s “The Story.” Despite Ellen DeGeneres’s presence, that performance only reaffirmed my opposition to the whole AI cult.

Ripping pages from Madonna’s playbook, Lady Gaga is another modern-day phenom that I have little interest in. All of her eccentricities seem utterly contrived. Make good music and leave the rest alone if you want lasting credibility rather than trending popularity. Obviously, this is not her strategy.

Now I don’t begrudge anyone their success; it’s more the overarching cult of personality that I take issue with. Like one of the pieces on Bieber put it: “We know this young star is very cute and has a pretty good voice. But he’s just a singer. Seriously, he hasn’t cured a single disease or come up with financial regulation that will help ease the ongoing economic crisis.”

We’re so conditioned to want fame and riches or, at the very least, to glom onto passing fancies that make us feel like we are a part of something great. I’m sure I’m no different. Like Robert Frost, I just choose the lesser-known fancies to glom.

I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I —

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.