Aw dangit. I have joined the legions of crazy fans all over the world whose hearts are moved by promises of there being “one less lonely girl” because of that hair flip, that purple hoodie, those 12 year old girlish looks. I simultaneously thank and curse my roommates for introducing me to the phenomenon that I thought I was too cool for. A few songs later, and I am definitely not too cool. And I’m ready to come out of the closet and admit that I, Rachel W, a 27 year old woman, am a Belieber. I realize that I must turn in my “cool” badge. I’m okay with that.

I have to add this to the list of things I judged too quickly, dismissed, and then later came to my senses and am now totally in love with. (Harry Potter, Twilight, iphones). My girl students used to talk about him so much that I  had to declare my room a “Bieber- free zone,” but now we spend Friday Study Halls talking about the latest Justin rumors and watching “Somebody to Love” on Youtube.

When I was in elementary school and junior high, boy bands and teeny bopper girls were at their poppy zenith. We’re talking late 90’s, Britney Spears Rolling Stone cover was rocking the nation (remember when this was as scandolous as it got?), Christina Aguilera was hand-waving and wailing her way through every love ballad, Mandy Moore was wimpering her way through mediocre music videos. The argument wasn’t “Team Jacob” or “Team Edward” – it was arguing over which member of Backstreet Boys and *NSync was the hottest.

With all the trash there is out there on the radio, tv and internet, I find it refreshing to sing along to songs about someone’s first love and the thrill of that high school dance, and a 17 year old’s promises to be true forever. Remember being in high school and thinking that that was love that you felt? And the excitement of a crush and the moment you caught eyes across the hallway. I remember figuring out his schedule and working out a way to walk through halls I had no reason to walk through so I could run into him, or finagling a way to go deliver meaningless papers to the classroom he was in at the time. Butterflies in the stomach and nervous giggling and hoping he noticed me. I love Justin Bieber’s music because it captures some of the sweetness and innocence that I’m worried is rapidly disspearing for my students. These kids are not living in the same world I grew up in, and it seems their childhood and adolescence are just this brief flash in the race to get to college and a career.

Back to Bieber…I think we loved Britney close to death. Head-shaving, Vegas weddings, umbrella bashing anyone? I remember hearing interviews and reading magazine articles that said the top news sources had obituaries at the ready for Britney, because her fame had caused her to spiral so far out of control. People compared the way the paparazzi hounded her to Princess Diana and the tragic way that her life ended. I’m glad she seems a little more stable these days, but still badly in need of an image makeover, and to stop singing just innuendo-inundated songs. You are a mom of two. Grow up.

Christina definitely went off the edge, and is slowly recovering, which is good to see because she is actually incredibly talented. Mandy Moore somehow landed Ryan Adams, and pretends to act in indie films, whatever. And apparently *NSyncers get to go to outer space? Justin Timberlake definitely has made a name for himself. I’m glad the curly boy hair stayed with the boy band days, though.

Justin Bieber and his songs are so cute that I really hope he grows up on solid ground, keeps his family close, and doesn’t fall prey to the parties and lights and flash that so many young stars seem to these days. He actually is talented, writing songs and playing music. It will be interesting to see how the end of puberty treats him…

So tonight, some of my eighth grade girls have invited me over for pizza and, yep, Bieber. I will be watching his smash hit “Never Say Never’ for the first time! My students tell me that its nothing like the big screen 3D experience, but “that’s okay Miss Weight, you’ll still totally like, really like him afterwards. Like, love him.”

We’ll see. :)

And if you haven’t yet…just watch this video. The song is catch-ay!!!