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How long can pop phenom Justin Bieber get by on shear talent alone?

Hair today, gone tomorrow? Will that be the fate of wee Justin Bieber and his luscious locks? When the 16-year-old Canadian teeny-bopper brings his '70s-style swoopy-helmet 'do to a packed St. Pete Times Forum on Sunday, the kid will do so as the hottest pop star on the planet.

A discovery of Usher, J.Biebs is a phenom with a platinum album (My World 2.0), a ubiquitous hit (Baby) and a Grammy nod for best new artist. Raised by a single mom, he taught himself to play myriad instruments; he has a sweet singing voice and can dance a bit, too. His slick synth-pop is made for tweens, but having rapper Ludacris on his tracks brings in the older set, too.

But wait, there's more! He's been named one of Barbara Walters' "10 Most Fascinating People of 2010," and he's reportedly dating Disney star Selena Gomez, an older woman (!) at age 18. Bieber is a merch maven, too, selling books, action figures, Christmas ornaments. Not too shabby for a London, Ontario, native who, at age 12, was discovered on YouTube singing Ne-Yo's So Sick. A bidding war broke out — Justin Timberlake wanted him, too — and fame was instant.

Yep, things are going well for the Biebs. But hair's the question: Will he arrive on our shores with a looming expiration date on his fame and mane?

Yes, the greatest band of all time had infamous, world-turning coifs. But the Beatles were supernaturally talented guys. Bieber seems like a nice enough kid, and Baby is darn catchy, but right now he's cruising solely on hype and hullabaloo . . . and that awesome hair. And let's be honest: Hot pop acts as famous for their mops as their hit(s) usually suffer cruel Tiger Beat fates of disposability and obliteration.

(No offense, David Cassidy!)

Maybe JB will be around forever and ever. Or maybe he's careening toward split ends and budget bins just like other fallen stars and their faded follicles. Take a gander at the tresses and cruel trends.

Sean Daly can be reached at or (727) 893-8467. His Pop Life column runs every Sunday in Floridian.

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IF YOU GO: The teen pop star comes to the St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa at 7 p.m. Sunday. Sean Kingston opens. Also, $1 from each ticket will be donated to Pencils of Promise, a group that supports educational opportunities. At press time, some tickets were still available. $33.25-$53.25. (813) 301-2500.

Learn his moves: Dancers from Justin Bieber's My World 2.0 Tour will teach children and young adults before hitting the stage Sunday night. Dancers will instruct hip-hop classes and share tips on how to become part of a professional dance group. Classes run from 11:20 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. (kids and advanced) and 1 to 2 p.m. (intermediate and advanced) Sunday at Studio Dance Company, 2440 State Road 580, Suite 8, Clearwater. Walk-ups are not allowed, so preregistration is required. It's $25 for one class, or $40 for two. (727) 724-5999.


Shaun Cassidy

THE 'DO: The feathery, blown-back teen-dream hair on this hunky Hardy Boy perfectly offset his freakishly white teeth.

THE DEMISE: 1977's Da Doo Ron Ron was a smash hit; Cassidy even scored a Grammy nomination! But by '79, the gleam was off the grin. He's now a successful TV producer. On a side note, this guy made my young life hell by spelling his flippin' first name wrong. Serves you right, Shaun.

Milli Vanilli

THE 'DO: Fab Morvan and Rob Pilatus were the ultimate lip-synchers, but their long, swirly black hair, swaying about in that vid for 1988's Blame It on the Rain, was all real — we think.

THE DEMISE: We don't want to rip the Grammy winners too hard. Heck, we were all fooled too, weren't we? Pilatus' drug and alcohol abuse led to his death in 1998, but Morvan is attempting a comeback. Go get 'em, Fab!

Vanilla Ice

THE 'DO: Would-be rapper Rob Van Winkle's multicolored pompadour came equipped with chiseled racing stripes on the sides. They made him appear much faster — especially as he careened into oblivion.

THE DEMISE: Like Eminem without the talent, charisma and pretty much every other positive trait, Vanilla Ice scored a No. 1 hit by ripping off Freddie Mercury and David Bowie's Under Pressure and turning it into 1990's Ice Ice Baby, then the fastest-selling hip-hop record of all time. (Sing it, yo: "Check out the hook while my DJ revolves it!") Ice's fall from grace was sudden, filled with arrests, punch lines and, perhaps saddest of all, dreadlocks.


THE 'DO: The Tulsa, Okla., trio were all-American boys — with the long, lush blond hair of all-American girls. But they sure were pretty, weren't they?

THE DEMISE: Isaac, Taylor and Zac recently brought their bro act through town, so there's still some interest in this power-poppin' boy band. But after the windows-down, shout-it-out glory of 1997's MMMBop, one of the biggest debut singles of all time, Hanson's most substantial contribution lately has been raising awareness of poverty in Africa.

Amy Winehouse

THE 'DO: The bawdy Brit has a throwback beehive that manages to stand tall and upright — even as she continues to fall down.

THE DEMISE: "Wino" Winehouse has a '60s-soulful voice blending Billie Holiday and Ronnie Spector. Her breakthrough hit Rehab was sinful fun but also sadly prophetic: Despite the uplift of winning a best new artist Grammy in 2008, the singer has been mired in career-killing drug imbroglios and tabloid-ready marital messes. No, no, no!

Jonas Brothers

THE 'DO: Although the Mouse House hunks from Wyckoff, N.J., are all considerably coiffed with thick dark hair, each one gives us a slightly different brunet buzz: Nick's matinee-idol waves, Joe's rock-star shag and Kevin's curls.

THE DEMISE: Before JoBro Nation pelts me with rotten fruit, I'll allow that Camp Rock 2 is still showing in my house. But like Miley Cyrus before them, and Hilary Duff before her — and Annette Funicello as the fairy godmother of 'em all! — young stars in the Disney machine aren't built to last. And the signs of Jonas jet lag are already here: a dud TV show, a lukewarm tour, declining record sales. Sadly, none of us stay tweens forever.

How long can pop phenom Justin Bieber get by on shear talent alone? 12/14/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, December 15, 2010 9:54am]
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