I am not a fan of Justin Bieber, nor the whole “boy band” thing, in general. I don’t really understand how people can become YouTube or Vine personalities to the extent that they are suddenly making huge amounts of money and touring around the country (to a predominantly young audience) as instant celebrities. Auto-tune? No thanks. I miss record stores and the experience of listening to an entire record, as opposed to just downloading singles and never really getting a feel for what kind of artist or musician someone is.
And all of the above reasons are why I thought The Lovesong of Jonny Valentine was kind of genius.
Jonny Valentine is a huge pop star, out touring the country to support his latest cd. His audience is primarily young, “tween” girls, his song titles are mostly made up of texting acronyms, and Jonny’s mother is his manager. Jonny is only 11 years old, and he’s constantly worried that his fame is fleeting.
Jonny is monitored in every aspect of his life. His mother micromanages his diet, his physical activity, his friends (or, lack thereof), his interaction with girls, his haircut, and his internet access. Jonny hasn’t seen his father in years, he hasn’t spoken to his friends since he was discovered as a YouTube sensation, and his only companion is his bodyguard. Jonny isn’t sure that this is the life for him.
He’s constantly worried about what new pop sensation is lurking around the corner, he hates having his record label set up pretend dates for him with other young singers, and the only thing in his life that he understands is his video game.
But Jonny has real talent, and could make it big in the business with a few tweaks to his image. Is he cool enough? Do his pants hang low enough? Is his hair floppy enough? Is his baseball cap gansta enough?
And Jonny thinks that maybe, all he wants, is to be a regular kid and go to school. Live in a house, not on a tour bus, and not worry about his carb intake for five minutes.
Poor Jonny, right?
That’s the beauty of the story. We spend chapter after chapter learning all about Jonny and his life, and his desire to be normal. We learn that his mother isn’t quite as savvy a business manager as she thinks she is, and that there is more to the distance between Jonny and his dad than we realize.
And then, the author changes everything. Every shred of sympathy I might have had for Jonny went right out the window. And I laughed and laughed.
A nice satire on the age of tween Disney-fied stars and the current state of the music industry.
That’s right, get off my lawn.