Justin Bieber image via Daniel Ogren/Wikipedia

Ode to the producer

by Kathryn Tyus-Adair

I am about to go on record, revealing top secret information. When I’m found out, my punishment will be swift and merciless. I don’t blame them. No one wants the world to know this kind of thing. But I’m counting on the benefits of a shared learning experience outweighing the cost of some shared humiliation. After all, my sons and I can’t be the only ones who’ve unwittingly succumbed to this phenomenon. Having said that, I must tell you, there is no overstating our mortification when it happened.

Let’s back up a moment. If you’ve seen my bio, you know that I’ve got a future Yankee center fielder and a world-renowned paleontologist in my house. These guys have zero interest in entertainment careers. Negative interest. And that is as binding as a pinkie swear has ever been. Which is why the outcome of our experience is so unlikely. Listening to a song by the artist I’ll soon reveal, and falling for it, is equally unlikely in my family. When it happened, we were desperate to give meaning to the event. There must be a purpose, a lesson to apply. We simply had to find a way to make sense of the discovery that the song my kids had been singing throughout the two hour drive to the desert was … okay, rip it off like a Band-Aid … Justin Bieber.

It started the way things do in families with young kids (like the flu or pink-eye or lice), with the youngest bringing it home and everyone else showing symptoms before the initial diagnosis. There we were, singing our hearts out, when my little guy settled into a catchy riff we all loved. “As long as you love me …” What was it? He wasn’t sure and we had to know. We should’ve been prepared, but we weren’t. I searched and, I’ll be honest with you, the horror of my discovery nearly ran us off the road. Really? The Beebs? And us?! It just could not be. But it was, and just as the producer intended, it was not going to be an easy thing to shake. We replayed the song. A lot. As in a truly embarrassing number of times. Justin had nothing to worry about with us. We were clearly going to love him for a very long time. Which brings me back to his producer …

Since my sons’ gag reflex unfailingly kicks in at the first strains of “Baby,” we needed to understand what had happened. I figured I could use this as a teaching experience (as to their immense annoyance, I always do). I had to research. I had to know who had worked this musical black magic on us. I knew it wasn’t The Beebs, himself. Hey, I’d seen a live performance. I bow to his producers. My research led me to Rodney “Darkchild” Jerkins, a go-to-guy for other famous popsters and a man whom some bloggers were crediting with helping Bieber turn the corner (like another Justin before him) to hip-hop/pop territory. In doing so, he’d given me a perfect example of producership (shh, it’s a word now) to share with my kids, demonstrating how vital a producer can be in making entertainment, well, entertaining. Even to those who really, really want to resist.

It was as if Darkchild had used my family as a case study. “One family with two adolescent/pre-adolescent boys who would swallow glass before admitting to listening to a Justin Bieber song. Check. Same family — control-freak mother who, upon learning that Bieber is being considered, will direct said adolescents to Jackson 5 classics, reminding them that young pop singers once inspired the music vs. the other way around. Check.”

Darkchild knew that this was an untapped market for his artist – and one that was also unsuspecting and vulnerable. More important, he knew how to get us. He realized a less is more approach – from start to finish – would be key with what he was selling. The approach, combined with synthesized, danceable beats and some clever, utterly distracting Big Sean hip-hop would lure us into the song before we registered what was happening.

“You’re out of the woods, you’re out of the dark, you’re out of the night …” We were Dorothy and her buddies, frolicking in a poppy field looking for more, before we figured out we’d also been listening to The Beebs. Yes, upon closer inspection, there were his vocals. Dipping and diving and floating along, confidently-supported by a couldn’t miss producer’s vision. We couldn’t believe our ears. But, as our research revealed, Darkchild (or somebody) predicted this, having — with a wink — given the album the title Believe (you really do get what you pay for).

We were inspired. The Beeb’s producer was a genius! And, more than that, he was someone we could blame for what had happened to us. But, wait. What was this I was suddenly hearing? “Maybe I could be a producer …?”

Uh, no. You’re a Yankee. Center fielder. And a neurosurgeon. What was the sudden rapid-fire rapping I heard coming from the back seat?  No, no, no. You are not going to be his first artist! There are Liopleurodons still to be unearthed! And that’s gonna take a doctorate. And a law degree (what he doesn’t know …). Focus people.

What was it Glenda sent to help Dorothy and her friends snap out of it? Could it counter a Bieberfication? Nah, wait, that was snow. But hey, we are desperate. We’re going to fight this and we’re going to win. So try to suppress your gag reflex, because we will never say, “Never.” Okay, maybe we will. But, if we do, just know this — the producer will be to blame.

Justin Bieber

Justin Bieber
Photo via Shutterstock

Kathryn Tyus-Adair

About Kathryn Tyus-Adair

Kathryn Tyus-Adair is a senior executive at an active film and TV production company. During her career, she has had the opportunity to work with many iconic directors including Robert Redford, Curtis Hanson and the late Alan Pakula. She is also the mother of a future Yankee center fielder and a world-renowned paleontologist.

Tags: , , , , , ,