Miley Cyrus spoils our teenagers

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This content was published on March 23, 2018 - 10:39 am (Keystone-SDA)

While some kids are still going through puberty, others feel their way into show business. There doesn't seem to be a minimum age in the USA, many singers are around 20 years old or younger. Such youngsters landed on the big stage decades ago.

Anyone who wants to speak to pop singer Grace VanderWaal for an interview will be forewarned by her assistant. "She is a little tired from the rehearsal and is now getting on a plane." VanderWaal is half an hour late. Since the release of her debut album, her schedule has been "extremely tight", she says. Grace VanderWaal is 14 years old.

VanderWaal, best known as the winner of America's Got Talent, is an extreme case. But artists like Shawn Mendes (19), Miley Cyrus' sister Noah (18) and Erick Brian Colón (17) from the boy band CNCO also show that teenagers tinker with their careers early on. Adele named her debut album in 2008 after her age at the time: "19" ("21" and "25" followed later).

There have always been very young stars

"Young artists can risk more. We are not afraid and are not spoiled by the world," says the sibling duo Chloe X Halle (17 and 19) from Atlanta. On Beyoncé's “Formation” tour, the two made an impression as a pre-band - “and that's just the beginning,” the sisters write on their website.

Justin Bieber, on the other hand, looks like an old hand with his 105 million Twitter followers and five million albums sold. As a reminder, he's 23.

Is the industry rejuvenating? Not if you look at the last 50 years of music history: "The Kinks" front man Ray Davies was 20 years old when his track "You Really Got Me" rose to the top of the chart in 1964. Dennis Seatons released his reggae hit "Pass the Dutchie" in 1982 when he was 15 and Michael Jackson was eleven when ABC was released with the Jackson 5. Britney Spears became famous in 1998 at the age of 18 with "... Baby One more Time". And Stevie Wonder was 12 when his 1962 hit "Fingertips" came out. At that time he was still called "Little Stevie Wonder".

Tomorrow: Kids' Choice Awards

At the Kids' Choice Awards, which will be given for the 30th time on Saturday, children are also on the trigger: They vote their favorites from music, film and television, and even if older names like Dwayne Johnson (45) and Luis Fonsi (39) are represented, the broadcaster Nickelodeon focuses on stars around the age of 20. The nominated British actress Millie Bobby Brown (14) from the Netflix series "Stranger Things" is even the same age as VanderWaal.

She calls it "crazy and so overwhelming" to have released a professional album as a teenager. "Just The Beginning" is the name of the debut album released by Columbia, on which she demonstrated her talent with ten dreamy to powerful titles. Maybe older listeners just have to get used to the fact that a 14-year-old sings passages like: "You're talking about a wedding / And a life together / But oh honey, I'm not looking for anything / What you're looking for, oh".

The Kansas-born singer was twelve years old when she bagged a million dollars as an AGT winner. She worked hard for the album for eight months, says VanderWaal. And she is even aware of the applicable child labor laws: three hours of work are legal for 14- and 15-year-olds on a school day in the USA, and eight hours on days without schooling.

VanderWaal doesn't see it doggedly

Despite praise and blessings from greats like Taylor Swift, Katy Perry, Reese Witherspoon and Shawn Mendes, she insists: "I'm not famous." She also doesn't talk to school friends about her album, she says, because "that would be so strange". And whether the whole thing with music will turn into a real career and determine her life, she doesn't know yet: "Maybe I'll just grow out of it."

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