5 Things Justin Bieber Could Learn From Janis Joplin

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(Jim Dyson/Getty Images)

(Jim Dyson/Getty Images)

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Pop star Justin Bieber collapsed during a performance at London’s O2 Arena last week (March 7), requiring medical attention and a brief hospital stay. During his hospital stopover, the Biebs assured fans that he was rebounding… by posting a topless selfie on Instagram with the message, “Gettin’ better listening to Janice Joplin.”

While Bieber’s misspelling of Joplin’s first name inadvertently crushed the website of San Antonio artist Janice Joplin, the fact that he was self-medicating with the tortured, soulful sounds of the late singer, who died of a drug overdose in 1970 at the age of 27 is very telling. Given the tumultuous year 2013 has been for Bieber thus far (or so he says), perhaps the 19-year-old could learn something from Janis Joplin’s tragic demise at such a young age.

1. Go Your Own Way

Growing up in Texas, kids made fun of Janis Joplin in part because of her love for African-American artists like Billie Holliday and Big Mama Thornton. But it was that pursuit of creating authentic blues music that lead to Joplin’s original style, making her a premier artist of her time. Similarly, Bieber’s R&B-informed pop could pave the way for a long and illustrious career.

2. Express Yourself, i.e. Swag It Out

Much like Joplin’s notoriously outlandish fashion sense (that hair, girl), Bieber has been criticized for his more flamboyant style choices, from studded baseball caps to his penchant for drop-crotch harem pants favored by Lil Wayne. Teetering between fashion forward and fashion victim, Bieber’s still-developing style may not always please the critics, but the fans understand that he’s just doing him. Swag.

3. Don’t Sweat Awards

Clearly, Bieber was upset about being snubbed by the 2013 GRAMMYs with a total of zero nominations (as was his manager, Scooter Braun, in a now-infamous Twitter rant). He even attempted to upstage the ceremony by scheduling a live one-hour video stream at the same time (the ill-fated live event never happened, with Bieber claiming that so many off his fans logged on to watch that it crashed the server). Joplin was only nominated for two GRAMMYs during her career, with both coming posthumously in 1972 for her final album, Pearl. She lost Best Rhythm & Blues Vocal Performance – Female to Aretha Franklin, with Carole King winning over Joplin in the Pop Female Vocalist category. Still, she would go on to be entered into the GRAMMY Hall of Fame in 2002, followed by her own Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005. Bieber would be wise to focus on his long-term career, not fleeting accolades.

4. Ease Up on the Partying

Justin Bieber shocked fans earlier this year when photos of him smoking what appeared to be marijuana were leaked. He went on to humorously apologize for the pics during a Saturday Night Live skit on the February 9th episode, when he was both the host and musical guest. While there are no indications that the singer is dabbling in anything harder than weed, given the role drugs played in Joplin’s untimely passing, Bieber can obviously benefit from avoiding the slippery slope that has claimed so many musical superstars before him. Don’t get sucked into that, golden boy.

5. Know When to Take a Break

Early in 1970, Joplin’s relationship with a student she met in Brazil ended over his opposition to her using hard drugs. Instead of taking time away from music and getting her personal life in order, she powered ahead with a new group, the Full Tilt Boogie Band, which she fronted until her death in October of that year. It’s been argued that if she’d avoided the limelight for a while, there might have been a chance that her untimely death was avoidable. The workaholic Bieber’s personal and professional life can only benefit from knowing when to pull back from the whirlwind and get some perspective. Sometimes, the best thing you can do for your fans is to leave them wanting more before they have a chance to get tired of your face. Although with a face like that, who could ever get tired of looking at it?

- Scott Sterling, Radio.com

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