Before I got into journalism full-time, I spent years working with youth outreach programs. High school wasn’t that long ago for me and even when I was in high school, I felt a bit like an old soul. At the time, everything was a big deal and when something went wrong, it seemed like the end of the world. While I know that’s not the case, that’s something we only understand in retrospect.
Anyway, one of the joys of working with kids and youth is being able to see the potential within each person even before they realize it themselves. I’m a big believer in giving young people opportunities to grow and learn, to cultivate talents and strengths long before they’re ready to do so. It’s like a self-fulfilling prophecy. The more you encourage it, the more it’ll take shape. So that’s my explanation for why Greyson Chance caught my eye.
Greyson Chance first caught international attention for a Youtube clip of him covering Lady Gaga’s “Paparazzi” at a festival. First off, this kid has legit talent. There’s something about him that is just absolutely natural. It’s true that you can practice, practice and PRACTICE playing the piano and singing but there is a certain quality to this kid that is undoubtedly born from within. I’ve worked with kids his age for years and to see this 13-year-old just completely own the performance is ridiculously fun to watch. Pay attention at 3:00. You don’t just learn how to do that.
The Bieber Treatment
I don’t want to paint them all with the same brush but at the same time, there’s no other way to describe it. Greyson Chance got The Bieber Treatment. What’s The Bieber Treatment, you might ask? It’s simple. It’s like a coming-of-age party of sorts. Young star releases their first music video with a somewhat decent music video concept, shiny production and execution, covered with the safest possible parental guidance rating.
1. Concept. The music video concept is good. It’s adorable. He likes a girl who likes someone else. But now he’s going to pick himself up, carry on and “unfriend” her. Sounds dorky but that’s the day and age we live in. (How many times have you introduced youself and followed it up with, “Oh, I’m so-and-so on Twitter”? Never? I don’t believe you.)
2. Production/Execution. Is there money being thrown into this music video? For sure. You can tell it’s well done. The problem is… really? You had to slick it up that much? The problem with shiny packaging is that it makes me question the actual quality of the product. It’s distracting, really.
3. Parental Guidance. This is my favourite part. I can’t get over it! They’re so adorable! His ex-girlfriend does nothing you wouldn’t do in front of her parents (that we can tell, anyway). Greyson goes to a totally radical party where obviously underaged teens are drinking Coca-Cola and some unknown company’s sponsored fruit drink. Don’t forget the dance circle! Not that they can dance… but it’s cute to watch them try. THEN PING PONG! Like, real ping pong and not just beer pong! I can appreciate that. And the grand finale? Totally harmless but awesome TP’ing of the ex-girlfriend’s house. NICE.
Growing Up and Moving On
Don’t get me wrong. I know I sound a little sarcastic but I legitimately want to see this kid do well. He’s got real talent and he seems to not buy into the Bieber Experience just yet. No fancy footwork, no fancy over-production… just a kid, a piano and one hell of a voice. Maybe if he keeps getting opportunities thrown his way, he’ll be able to become much more than just another Youtube-breakout-MTV-teeny-bopper sensation. He could have an honest, long-term career. Now wouldn’t that be a nice change from everything else in today’s music industry?
P.S. “You’re beautiful and crazy too / Maybe that’s why I fell into you.” OH, GIRL.
P.P.S. I totally would’ve had a crush on him if we had been the same age. No joke. Army jacket? Chucks? Totally clean-cut fun? I’m in.