I’d imagine that for most librarians, the thought of several thousand screaming middle schoolers is more a nightmare than a dream come true. But for pop idols Jesse McCartney and Jordin Sparks, each hysterical 12 year-old is the bread and butter of their professional life. Such is the land of teeny boppers, a cultural and marketing phenomenon of pop music, fashion, and celebrity aimed at adolescent girls.
As teenybopperism doesn’t necessarily hit where its aimed, I was obsessed with the New Kids on the Block when I was a kid (Joey was my favorite, of course). I collected shirts, buttons, posters, pillowcases, trading cards–you name it. My friends and I practiced the moves to “Step by Step” in algebra. So when I had the chance to nab free tickets to Jesse McCartney and Jordin Sparks’ Pittsburgh tour stop, I seized the opportunity.
Jesse McCartney is a product of the “boy band” explosion of the late 90s, debuting with the group Dream Street in 1999. The 15 year-old Jesse launched a teen-pop solo career in 2002, releasing the platinum album Beautiful Soul in 2004. After a lackluster follow-up in 2006 (Right Where You Want Me), Jesse McCartney became reinvented as a electro-pop/R&B hybrid act and just recently had a #1 single with the song “Leavin’.”
Before winning American Idol‘s sixth season in 2007, Jordin Sparks gained notoriety in her home state of Arizona as a talent show contestant and winner of a plus-sized model contest (to this day, lots of Jordin’s communications with fans are about maintaining a healthy self-image). After a tour-de-force win in which Jordin never finished below the top three in voting, she signed to Jive Records and put out a successful self-titled album featuring such singles as “Tattoo,” “One Step at a Time,” and the immensely popular “No Air,” a duet with R&B superstar Chris Brown:
As my friend and I experienced the show, full of impressive choreographed dancing and legions of hyperfans screaming their lungs out over the two hours that the show commenced, I wondered how libraries can help incorporate teeny bopper fandom into their services and collections.
In addition to the obvious array of music (which you can learn about through its flagship radio station Radio Disney), magazines are still a major vehicle within which teenyboppers get the scoop on their favorite stars. Check out J-14, M Magazine, Right On!, and Black Beat. If you’re struggling to provide a successful discussion group for teens, try a magazine discussion group and pore over the celebrity news of that month.
You can even load up your shelves by cross-referencing the latest stars against the biographies available from your book vender of choice or stocking such fiction as Grace Dent’s LBD (Les Bambinos Dangereuses) series.
Your library can give teeny boppers a forum to share not just gossip but their excitement about the stars and songs that shape their lives. This can be a great way to involve teens in your library services as they transition out of the children’s department… and who knows? Maybe the next time you visit their schools, you’ll be the one greeted with hordes of screaming fans!
Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh – Teen