We can't all be 16 years old with a rich singing voice and an even richer bank account. But Justin Bieber is living the dream.
Bieber, who is set to perform at a sold-out CenturyLink Center on Saturday, was discovered as a teenager after posting videos of himself singing to YouTube.
By the time he was 16, “Baby” was a hit on pop radio and the single had sold hundreds of thousands of copies. Not too shabby considering that, at that age, most of us are only hoping for a driver's license.
But as the 19-year-old Biebs has gotten older, there have been chinks in his wholesome image. Just this year, drugs were found on his tour bus, he was accused repeatedly of racing his car through his California neighborhood, he had to leave his undocumented pet monkey in Germany, and he offended many by writing that he hoped Anne Frank would have been a “belieber.”
Bieber isn't the only pop star to get his start as a teenager, and he isn't the first to fall from grace a bit. We looked through the last half-century or so for other, similar teen idols.
First big hit: “Nobody's Perfect” (2007)
Age at the time: 14
The story: Though she was already famous for making music as Hannah Montana, the 2007 release of “Hannah Montana 2: Meet Miley Cyrus” was Cyrus' official debut. Critics didn't love it, but the album sold millions of copies.
Fall from grace: Celebrities and teenagers have been known to use mind-expanding substances, and it was a big deal when Cyrus was caught on tape taking a few rips from a bong. It probably only cemented her move from Disney star to adult pop icon. She's still a success, though — her latest song, “We Can't Stop,” broke YouTube's record for most views in its debut 24 hours.
First big hit: “Tim McGraw” (2006)
Age at the time: 17
The story: Young Swift wrote “Tim McGraw” during her freshman year of high school, knowing she and her boyfriend would likely break up. Swift even performed the song when she opened for McGraw and Faith Hill on a 2007 tour.
Fall from grace: We're still waiting for it. She may be more pop than country now, but she's still pretty wholesome — aside from her merry-go-round dating life.
First big hit: “...Baby One More Time” (1998)
Age at the time: 16
The story: The song was originally written for other groups but was rejected. It became a smash hit for Spears and was named by Rolling Stone as one of the greatest pop songs written since 1963.
Fall from grace: A short-lived marriage to Kevin Federline, losing custody of her children and speaking in a British accent were nothing compared to the time she shaved her head in a California salon.
New Kids on the Block
First big hit: “You Got It (The Right Stuff)” (1988)
Age at the time: 16 to 19
The story: Jordan Knight and Donnie Wahlberg took the lead on this single from the boy band's “Hangin' Tough” album. Its success was a relief for the band after the group's first album failed to sell.
Fall from grace: After renaming themselves NKOTB, the group released “Face the Music,” a musical departure that was far from a hit. The group broke up in 1995, but reformed in 2008 and has since gone on several huge arena tours.
First big hit: “I Think We're Alone Now” (1987)
Age at the time: 15
The story: Tiffany practically hated “I Think We're Alone Now” when she first heard it. Apparently, she didn't want to re-record the song, which was originally by Tommy James and the Shondells, but it ended up being one of her biggest hits.
Fall from grace: Her second album wasn't as popular, but her third, “New Inside,” was a failure. She tried a few comeback attempts and even posed for “Playboy” in 2002.
First big hit: “I Think I Love You” (1970)
Age at the time: 20
The story: The song was released by the Partridge Family, but it gave Cassidy enough exposure to convince producers that he could make music on his own.
Fall from grace: Cassidy retired from acting and singing for a time, but drugs and booze caused him to end his marriage and suffer financial problems.
The Jackson 5
First big hit: “I Want You Back” 1969
Age at the time: 11 to 18
The story: Originally, the song was written for Gladys Knight & the Pips and then for Diana Ross, but the Jackson 5 made it a hit. About someone who was too hasty in letting a lover go, the song was sung by then-11-year-old Michael Jackson.
Fall from grace: After Michael left and “Thriller” became an enormous hit, nothing was quite the same for the Jacksons, as they were known later. Michael, of course, had his own problems as he grew up.
First big hit: “Venus” (1959)
Age at the time: 19
The story: The song was Avalon's first No. 1 on the Hot 100. He would produce plenty more hits and star in a bunch of beach party films.
Fall from grace: There's never been much controversy surrounding Avalon, who has been married for 50 years and is a pretty wholesome guy.