Live fast, die young: it’s the curse of the youthfully talented. Amy Winehouse was added this weekend to the list of pop stars whose early death leaves us with a gaping hole on our iPods. For the rest of eternity human thumbs will navigate through ‘All Albums’ to ‘Amy Winehouse’ to Frank or Back to Black. They will ache to tap further down the screen for more, like an amputee who still feels the need to scratch their severed limb. Stunted and inadequate, these two albums will be all we will have of her magical talent.
Still, fear not, music fans! In the hours that followed Amy’s death, Justin Bieber tweeted that he intends to live forever. Does this mean that for the rest of eternity our iPods will grow Bieber albums like middle-aged nose or ear hair - pointless and rather unpleasant?
The folly of youth is to believe that you will live forever. Combine that with a million screaming girls and you get the Biebster: young, dumb, and full of Sour Patch Kids (his favorite candy apparently). I hate to break it to you, Biebs; you seem like a nice boy with great hair and snazzy sneakers and all, but you will not live forever and, unlike Amy Winehouse, nor will your last album.
How do I know that Amy Winehouse’s music will live forever, but Justin Bieber’s won’t?
It is the scientific conclusion of a long series of... er... sophisticated tests I performed on a road trip this weekend called the Air Singing Experiment. Air singing does for people who can’t sing (me) what air guitar does for people who can’t play guitar (also me). It involves finding a confined, preferably private place, such as a car, turning your chosen song up full blast, and singing along soundlessly, allowing the singer’s voice to miraculously become your own.
The key to the endurance of any music is: how does it make you feel as you lip sync your little heart out? The profound results of this experiment are as follows:
Test 1: Justin
Result: After an enthusiastic start, I find that my grip on the car’s accelerator is compromised by the fact that my toes are curled into a tight, cringing ball after too many "bayyybeeees". Even my seven-year-old is doing an ironic "I’ve just inhaled some helium" impression in the back seat. All that’s left when the song is over are sore toes and an empty feeling similar to eating a packet of chips; you know you’ve just consumed something but it has no lasting effect whatsoever.
Test 2: Adele, "Someone Like You"
Result: Keeping up with Adele’s continuous swoops and dives through a mind-boggling vocal range leaves me feeling jangly and dizzy from the lack of oxygen. As I hit the long and satisfying ‘Oooooouuuuu’ at the end of "Someone Like You" I feel like throwing my arms out and running down the nearest hill like Maria in The Sound of Music. Adele leaves me feeling dramatic, ladylike, and high from squeezing every last drop of air from my lungs.
Test 3: Amy
Result: From the first line I am surprised to find that my top lip has automatically gone into a sneer and I am glaring, chin jutting forward through half shut eyes at the road in front of me, which is getting the message that I am not to be trifled with. Before I know it my right hand is holding an imaginary cigarette and my hair is backcombing itself into an unnecessarily large beehive. For those brief minutes, I’m a good girl who gets to play at being a bad girl. I’m cool.
Conclusion: In order for any musician to "live forever", their music needs to leave us feeling transformed, even if only for a moment. When you have an album like Back to Black on your iPod, you know that for the rest of your life you are a finger-stroke away from feeling just the wrong side of raw and the right side of cool, even if it is just air singing in your car on the way to work.
Justin Bieber will possibly live a long and healthy life, but when it comes to his musical legacy, never really does say never.