How Young is Too Young?

James Dix

I am with a group of friends at a rehearsal for a musical. A friend of mine shouts out: ‘She’s seventeen and already won a Grammy, I’m twenty one and achieved nothing.’ He is referring to New Zealand’s global superstar, Lorde.

The music industry has always been fickle, talent comes and goes, but the worry for most is how long their career will last. What is an artist’s sell by date? When will the industry grow tired of them?

Like Madonna, some icons may keep making music for years. Others will be in and out of the industry, such as the Jonas Brothers, before they have even had time for their music to fully mature.

The concept of child stars has been around for decades, as Michael Jackson managed to keep a long and prosperous career because of his talent, a trend Beyoncé is continuing. But what happens to acts like Justin Bieber who retire young?

For many acts they have to keep working until they have enough to sustain themselves without having to go on reality TV shows (Lee Ryan), because when they have to resort to being famous for something other than music, they lose that original identity.

In a recent interview with Attitude, Aaron from S Club Juniors explained how he had moved on from music and made a stable career for himself, but the pressure of being known as a teen pop star always lingered with him.

Is it right that the music industry allows people who are barely teenagers (like Miley Cyrus when she became Hannah Montana) to be open to such a global critique of processed music?

When my friend laments Lorde being so young and so talented, it is justified because she has put in a lot of work to write her album, a process which will have given her an understanding of her identity as an artist. However, for young artists who are put on a pedestal without this full understanding, it is too young, it is manipulative and it can ruin people once the limelight runs out. We have all seen the effects of teen-stars gone wrong, Lohan, Bynes and debatably Cyrus. Is it not time we stopped buying into a corrupt, self-perpatuating industry?

Music means something when it is driven by real experience, can teen-pop ever make you experience being jilted at your civil partnership, fired and depressed or your first real love breaking your heart? I doubt it, so why do we buy into it? Maybe it is time to grow up.

About James Dix

James Dix from Chipping Norton often meets David Cameron at the local Sainsbury's, "No I don't want an NHS cut, I just want some milk". Final year student of Journalism and English Literature from the countryside, studying at Northumbria University.