Ellen DeGeneres has a record label called eleveneleven, which appears to be named after the approximate age of the artists she's signing to it. Her first score was Greyson Chance, a 13-year-old YouTube phenom from Oklahoma who got discovered after he performed Lady Gaga's "Paparazzi" at a talent show. And Just Jared reports the talk-show host has just inked a contract with Savannah Robinson. Who is 12.
Viral sensation Rebecca Black is 13. Willow Smith is now 10. By comparison, 17-year-old Justin Bieber is like, old, and 18-year-old Miley Cyrus and Nick Jonas are dinosaurs. There's no question the music industry is looking to the youth of America for next big things -- even American Idol reduced its minimum age from 16 to 15 in search of literal new blood -- and the 12 to 17 demographic represents major purchasing power. But is it really necessary to mine elementary and middle schools for "artists" and lock them into recording contracts before they take the PSATs? And is there not something off about barely pubescent children singing karaoke versions of emotionally and sexually complex songs (Chance's "Paparazzi," Robinson's "And I Am Telling You" from "Dreamgirls"). It's mimicry, not artistry. And it's kind of creepy.
All of these 17-and-unders were discovered the same way -- YouTube -- and even Willow Smith, who got her break because her dad was the Fresh Prince, shot "Whip My Hair" out to the masses that way. That makes sense, too: Most clubs don't allow little kids to get up onstage at 10 p.m., and you don't need to get your parents to hire an agent to get your work out to millions of people. But the music industry is harsh, as Black recently learned (she cried when meanies on the Internet said she was the worst ever). It's also going down the toilet. Maybe the music biz would be better off developing talent until it's mature, rather than sucking the bloom off the rose before it's old enough to take driver's ed.
- Lady Gaga
- Ellen DeGeneres
- Justin Bieber