| "I TRY TO FAKE IT BUT I CAN'T, I'D RATHER LOSE FOR WHAT I AM THAN WIN FOR WHAT I AIN'T" |
Somewhere in the middle of 2015 something weird happened: Justin Bieber became cool. He might have been a cool person before - I don't know him - it is safe to say that he definitely wasn't perceived as cool artists before. So what happened? Let me explain.
For years Justin Bieber has been a perfectly harmless kid singing pretty terrible (but polished) songs aimed at young girls. Some people hated on him for that, but I would argue those haters had no cause for their behavior, because the music clearly wasn't even remotely meant for them. That changed once he became a little older and started behaving a little less well, which made him less marketable to his original demographic. So the team behind Justin decided to switch gears by moving his sound into a more R&B-ish direction that was probably supposed to appeal to an older crowd (think Justin Timberlake). Financially it probably worked out well enough, but it still seemed like his star was slowly fading. The reason this new sound did not catch on the way it was meant to is because it was being perceived as inauthentic, which it probably was. It at least felt incredibly calculated, which is never a good thing. So Justin, whose reputation had been increasingly damaged by so-called scandals, disappeared for a while (at least musically, he is too famous to disappear from TMZ).
In 2015, he resurfaced. His "comeback" started in February with 'Where Are Ü Now' and culminated in his tearful performance at the 2015 VMAs, where he introduced a large part of the world to 'What Do You Mean?', arguably the best commercial R&B song of 2015. His album followed in the fall and it did not disappoint. His comeback was complete. The album is well made, fresh and, most importantly, it feels authentic - especially when you look at it in the context of how he handled and presented himself in 2015, the year in which he stopped upholding an image and presented his true self, flaws and all. As we know, he and his album took the world by storm, reaching basically every demographic, even Pitchfork hipsters and XXL readers, for the first time in his career. Why? What was different this time? Authenticity. He reinvented himself by, maybe for the first time, being himself.
In the long term, having a good product (like a well produced pop song) is not enough if you are being perceived as inauthentic. However, if you are authentic, unapologetic and have a good product? The sky is the limit. That last lesson is something many companies can learn from: don't pander, don't fake an image, don't hide your truth, because the people, especially millennials, will know and they will punish you for it. So if you have lost your way, try to reinvent yourself by doing something very simple: be yourself.
M | 1520