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Destruction and success of teens in the music industry

Wendlandt is a sophomore broadcast journalism major and can be contacted at michael.wendlandt@drake.edu

When we look at the new teenage sensations like Justin Bieber, Rebecca Black and Miley Cyrus, it’s really easy to proclaim the next big thing. But is success at that young age a good thing? It can be either a blessing or a curse for many of them. There are many examples of both in popular music — past and present. Let’s start with the success stories in teenage sensations.

Simon & Garfunkel

The famous folk-rock duo started out as Tom and Jerry in 1957 when both were 16 years old. In their twenties, the two had great success, with such songs as “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” and “The Boxer.” Since then, both have had great success as solo artists and are still playing while even in their seventies today.

The Bee Gees

The three Gibb brothers all started in Australia with the song “Spicks & Specks,” when they were all in their early teens and the success didn’t stop there. They are the only group to have three consecutive No.1 hits, and are one of the most successful groups in terms of all-time chart hits. They all stayed together until Maurice Gibb died in 2003 of a heart attack.

Stevie Wonder

We all know the story of Stevie Wonder, right — the poor, blind kid who hit it big at age 11 after getting signed to Motown records? I know it sounds like a bad movie, but that’s exactly what happened. He is still with Motown and is still huge all over the world. From his early songs like “Fingertips” and“My Cherie Amour,” to today, Stevie is a living legend who is still cranking out songs.

There is one main example of teenage success that has gone wrong, and we are all familiar with that example:

Michael Jackson

Now, I know what everyone’s thinking. How could the “King” of pop be a failure? The answer is simple. Look at his personal history. He had great success as a member of the Jackson 5, and became even bigger after the group disbanded. Yet, he never really grew up and that led to his failure. His lack of a childhood due to early fame led him to become a person who thought that he could get away with anything, leading to his controversial public and legal situations. From his dangling of his son off a balcony to his criminal trial, or even his controversial death from enough drugs that could kill an army, Jackson struggled with his personal life, and that is why his early fame led to later failure.

Now, there is definitely the chance that all of today’s top teenage stars could continue their success, but tread carefully. Miley Cyrus is already starting to struggle and isn’t even touring America anymore. I don’t know who will be next, but it won’t be pretty.

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1 Comment

  1. Stan May 4, 2011

    Actually, Miley is refusing to tour the US because of people like you who feel the need to shout out to the world thier opinion of her personal behavior and dress. The demand for her to tour, if you look at twitter and facebook is high. She however has decided not to put herself through the undue critisim of her dress on stage when she performs, a situation she doesn’t have to put up with in other countries because they are more instrested in her music, not her look or personal behavior. BTW ABBA was one of the most successful groups of all time world wide, but they never were popular in the US. Based on Miley’s ticket sales and album sales oversea, I would say she may be able to take the same route and remain successful in the industry even if it is outside of the US.

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