It was election eve inside the Verizon Center, perhaps the only room in Washington where the assembled weren’t agonizing over Ohio’s 18 electoral votes. Instead, 14,000-plus fans fixated on an 18-year-old from Canada whose estimated annual income more than doubles that of Mitt Romney.
His name is Justin Bieber, and when he floated down from the stadium rafters Monday night on a system of cables while wearing prosthetic angel’s wings, the capacity crowd lavished the teen idol in howls of vowels.
It was a handy reminder that this concert was actually happening in real life and not on the Internet, where Bieber continues his reign as social media’s ubiquitous pop prince. Still, many fans opted to keep experiencing Bieber as pixels on a screen, pointing their cameras toward the singer’s James Dean-ish pompadour as his voice struggled to slice through the corn-syrupy thump of “All Around the World.”
But over the next 90-odd minutes, Bieber failed to make his case in 3-D. His massive success has earned him comparisons to Elvis Presley (heartthrob-turned-rock-god), Michael Jackson (heartthrob-turned-pop-god) and Justin Timberlake (heartthrob-turned-global-multiplatform-brand), but Bieber lacks even the most infinitesimal fraction of that trio’s combined physicality. Pop-locking across a three-tiered stage, he looked like a kid imprisoned in his own choreography — a robot doing the robot.