It’s hard to think of something more embarrassing for a 17-year-old boy than going to the mall with his mom to buy jeans and having her measure his inseam while all his friends fall out of their food court chairs giggling.
Well, except being a 17-year-old international pop superstar and having your manager discuss the status of your little fellas with all the world. Cue to what we can only imagine was a very red-faced Justin Bieber slouching on a couch during a cover story interview with Billboard magazine recently in which his longtime manager, Scooter Braun, dropped this bon mot. “Vocally, his balls have dropped,” Braun said of the vocal changes fans might hear on the singer’s upcoming Christmas album, Under the Mistletoe.
Wow, okay. Thanks Scooter, but seriously dude, TMI.
Of course, Bieber isn’t the only teen dream who’s had to deal with ch-ch-ch-changes to his voice at the peak of his powers.
Usher: Bieber’s mentor signed to Island Def Jam Music Group when he was just 14 and was almost a wash out before he got his chance to shine when his voice changed in 1994. Label boss Antonio “L.A.” Reid was ready to drop the teen singer at the time, but Diddy stepped in and convinced the “X Factor” judge that Ush would be just fine. The rest, as they say, is history.
Michael Jackson: When he was starting out as a child singer, late pop icon Jackson had the kind of crisp, clean soprano that comes along once a generation. But, like his mentor, Stevie Wonder, what was cute coming from a pre-teen turned into a struggle when hormones kicked in. In Jackson’s case, that was around 1973 (at age 15) on the Jackson 5’s Get it Together album. Fans probably didn’t really notice it until a few years later because Motown producers reportedly encouraged him to keep singing at the top of his range for as long as he could.
Ricky Martin: It’s hard to remember now, but for a while in the early 1980s Latin boy band Menudo was the biggest thing on the planet. The group had an unusual format, in which the teen boy singers were forced to retire at age 16, or when their voices changed or they grew facial hair. Martin joined the band in 1983 at age 12 and was timed-out in 1988 at age 17 when his voice changed. He, of course, went on to massive success as a solo artists in the following years and will soon star in “Evita” on Broadway.
Taylor Hanson: When brother band Hanson got together, lead singer Taylor was a mere nine years old. They released their first album in 1997, when he was 14 years old, right around the time his voice began to change as the world was just getting used to his high and mighty vocals on “MMMbop.” Now 28, he survived the ravages of puberty and continues to rock out with his bros.