Image Credit: Kevin Mazur/KCA2010/WireImage.comHaving already devoured QVC, the Billboard charts, and American Idol, Justin Bieber woke up Saturday morning and thought to himself, “Hmm, Saturday Night Live is ripe for the picking!” The 16-year-old singer was SNL‘s musical guest last night, but I’m not quite sure I get the objective. Was SNL hoping the Bieb’s presence would get tween girls to tune in, or was this a step toward gradually expanding his appeal to, I don’t know, people who like music? Ultimately, the majority of SNL‘s audience has probably never seen Bieber perform, so at least everyone got to find out what this “dreamy Christmas elf,” as host Tina Fey described him, was all about. And luckily, the Bieb didn’t have to worry about there being much comedy on the show to overshadow his two musical acts (sorry, Tina, but they gave you precious little to work with this time).
Bieber sang “Baby” and “U Smile,” the same two songs I watched him tape at American Idol a week ago (that performance will air in May). Vocally, he sounded quite crisp, although he stumbled a bit during the rap portion of “Baby,” which is normally done by Ludacris. The bigger issue, though, was the visual presentation. I have no idea what Bieber’s concerts look like, so all I can compare his SNL gig to is what he offered up at American Idol. Simply put, Bieber’s SNL act was an attempt to stuff his Idol extravaganza into a much smaller box. Behind Bieber were the same four male dancers, who failed to tone down their choreography for the minuscule SNL stage. The result was akin to watching an evening newscast directed by Michael Bay — way too much commotion for such a limited amount of space. And in my Idol recap, I warned Bieber about jumping in the air at the same time as his backup dancers, but he did so anyway. I don’t mean to be cruel, but the kid got as much air as this cat, and it doesn’t help that his backup dancers practically broke through the stratosphere.
But quibble as I may, it must be said that Bieber’s tunes are catchy despite being drenched in cheese, he seems like a decent guy, and every generation of tweens deserves its irrational infatuation. A few years down the road, these teenage girls will reflect upon their prior Bieber Fevers with equal amounts of embarrassment and nostalgia, and that’s part of the joy of growing up.
Bieber fans, did the Bieb’s SNL performance live up to your wildest fantasies? Adults, what did you make of the boy whose “smile is like watching a baby bunny sniff a tiny flower,” as Tina Fey pointed out? Does the Bieber phenomenon make any more sense now, or are you still just as puzzled?