Kid Rock went on Howard Stern and proclaimed Justin Bieber as this generations Vanilla Ice. At first it seemed a bit unfair. Ice is largely looked upon as a clown. Sure the Biebs has turned out to be a bit of a disrespectful brat but does he really deserve to be pulled down to Vanilla Ice’s level? Yet the more I thought about it the more astute Rock’s claim seemed. In fact, I started to wonder if Rock wasn't just on to something, but maybe he had actually gone easy on Bieber. Lets examine.
I hated Vanilla Ice from the moment I saw that stupid ass video for Ice Ice Baby on MTV. But the 20 years since his arrival into the pop culture lexicon has given his iconic status some historical perspective we don’t yet have with J Biebs. So even though one must make an educated guess as to what Bieber’s future holds, there is an Apple’s to Apple’s comparison we can make. Has Justin Bieber even achieved the level of pop culture penetration that Vanilla did 20 years ago?
It’s rather convenient when someone of Vanilla’s ilk is tossed aside so quickly by those who initially embraced him but it's hardly unique. And it goes both ways. When Guns’ N Roses Appetite For Destruction came out, none of my more mainstream friends gave it a chance. I'd drop the cassette in at a party and before the first chorus of Welcome To The Jungle I’d find the cassette hurled back in my direction. But once Sweet Child O’ Mine broke they were suddenly recommending I check out this new band called Guns N Roses. And many of those same friends, upon hearing Ice Ice Baby for the first time raceed into Sam Goody’s across America to snatch up a copy of To The Extreme and drove around cranking Ice Ice Baby from the stereo’s of their Monte Carlo’s. Those same people who made Vanilla a millionaire and pop culture hall of famer now speak of that time and song as if it were an out of body experience. Truth is this happens all the time. Which is unfair. MTV is largely responsible for this phenomena. They basically embraced V Ice and then once it became clear what a tool he was they changed course. The point being he was an ass clown the whole time. Fame just made it more obvious and if MTV had any quality control they would’ve realized that sooner. And the fans who once liked his music no longer did? Milli Vanilli didn’t suck after we found out they were just pictures on the cover. They sucked the whole time. Vanilla Ice was stupid. Vanilla Ice was never real. Anyone who took him seriously as he dropped lines like “Chillin’ like Bob Dylan” are too stupid to have an opinion now or then. I mean, I still like the music I did when I was 7.
But that’s not the point. Not now anyway. The point is this. 20 years later. Everyone who knows Vanilla Ice knows the song Ice Ice Baby. It’s my contention that a vast majority of people who know who Justin Bieber is, TODAY, can’t name one song. We don’t need to wait 20 years for the memory to fade because one doesn’t exist. And he must have one right? I’m pretty sure I heard he was a musician.
While the fans who waxed Ice Like a candle as quickly as he cooked MC's like a pound of bacon can look back and pretend it was just a youthful indiscretion. A moment of time that “We were all guilty of”. (No. No we ALL weren’t.) But whether you are a connoisseur of bad taste or a music snob who scoffs at anything remotely popular, we all know the song Ice Ice Baby. We know when to Stop. When to collaborate and when to listen. Love it or leave it, Ice Ice Baby is crystallized in Pop Culture infamy. Sure to be blasted through shitty DJ speakers at class reunions and weddings for generations to come. Now I would like to hear J-Biebs croon for me as much as I want Rob Van Winkle to flip my house, but twenty years from now I don’t see today’s Belieber’s nostalgically giggling an admission to rocking a particular Bieber anthem back in the day.
At least Vanilla’s legacy is a song. Sure it’s one of the worst songs ever and it was written by Queen, but it’s no worse than it’s black counterpart U Can’t Touch This and it’s more than Biebs has given us. Bieber is known for what? Pissing in a mop bucket? What’s the first thing you think of when you hear the name Justin Bieber? His hair? Driving a chrome dildo at high speeds through residential neighborhoods? Sure they both have stupid haircuts and dress like the mutated offspring of Kriss Kross, but at least the sheep who blasted Vanilla Ice can remember that time with a guilty smile. I’m pretty sure 20 years from now admitting you were into J Biebs is gonna be like admitting you masturbated to the mental image of your sister in a bikini. If Vanilla was Cool As Ice, then Bieb’s is Smooth Like A Ken Doll. And he’ll never outgrow that. Even his name sounds like a McDonalds kiddie meal. Can you really take a grown man named Justin Bieber seriously. Maybe it’s the disposable nature of today’s music or the fact that your average Belieber hasn’t met their first pubic hair but you cannot deny that the Bieb’s is famous as fuck. But the next time you find yourself humming “dun dun dun dun dada dun dun” ask yourself this. Is Bieber the next Corey Haim or the next Vanilla Ice?