Maybe it’s the hair. The signature dance moves? The fresh-faced grin?
If you want to understand the appeal of singer Justin Bieber, ask the experts: his fans. They’ll give you lots of reasons.
“I like his singing,” says 10-year-old Damiah Ford.
“I like his hair flipping,” says Jade Summers, 10, of his trademark haircut.
“His dancing, his music and his personality,” says Jordyn Sweat, 9. She demonstrates one of Bieber’s dance moves, “the dougie,” wiping her hands over her head.
“Because he is cute,” says 9-year-old Malika Crawford and a chorus of giggles goes around the table.
Regardless of their reasons for loving the 16-year-old R&B star, all of the girls say they plan on seeing his new movie, “Justin Bieber: Never Say Never,” after it premieres in theaters this Friday.
The 3-D documentary shows Bieber’s early life and his rise to fame through YouTube videos, as well as some footage from performances during his 2010 concert tour. The film also promises appearances from Boys II Men, Miley Cyrus, Usher, Ludacris and Sean Kingston.
If you’re new to “Bieber fever,” his fans can also offer some facts to know before you enter the theater.
“He’s from Canada,” Jordyn says. Bieber grew up in Stratford, Ontario and was discovered after a marketing executive for So So Def Recordings saw his YouTube videos. The singer flew to Atlanta to record demo tapes, where he also sang for R&B singer/songwriter Usher.
“When Usher heard him, he got signed,” Damiah says.
In addition to singing, Bieber also taught himself to play various instruments, including guitar, piano and drums.
“I’ve seen him play the drums,” brags Gitana Adams, 10. But Jade has her beat -- she’s seen Justin in concert. In the front row. She touched his hand.
“Give me that hand,” Gitana says, grasping after Jade’s hand. “Did you wash it afterwards?” Jade shakes her head ‘No.’
“It was wonderful,” Jade says of the Atlanta concert. “At the end of his show, he blew kisses to everybody.”
Olivia Pless, a 14-year-old Bieber fan, says she thinks the singer’s fan base runs beyond pre-teen and teenage girls.
“I’ve seen kids as little as three years old say his name and I’ve seen moms on TV,” Olivia says. She said some of her friends are Bieber fans -- “But not as many as I want,” she says.
Olivia likes Bieber’s music -- her favorite song is “Stuck in the moment” -- but said that part of his appeal is also his differences from other pop stars.
“He seems like he’s really grounded and a lot of stars aren’t these days,” she says.
Bieber’s growing fan base has caused some problems for 14-year-old Tristan Cox. He frequently gets mistaken for the Canadian singer when he goes to Atlanta, he says. Bieber has a residence in Atlanta.
“Every now and then, I kind of resemble him. I think it’s the hair,” Tristan says. Both boys sport shaggy, flipped do’s.
The first time Tristan was mistaken for Bieber was on Labor Day weekend in Atlanta. Tristan was wearing a purple shirt and sunglasses -- standard Bieber attire -- and it was late at night.
“People kept coming up to me and screaming and saying “It’s Justin Bieber,” he says. “I was like, I don’t look like Justin Bieber.”
Tristan hasn’t kept track of how many times he’s been confused with the singer. Because he knows people in Columbus, he says he doesn’t get harassed at home and has no plans to change his hairstyle.
“I found a haircut that works for me,” he says. “I’ve thought about (cutting) it, but I don’t think I will.”
Tristan has heard some of Bieber’s songs on the radio -- “He’s okay” -- and says if he ever met his look-alike, he’d just ask the singer if he sees a resemblance.
Bieber’s local fans can’t be as calm at the thought of meeting their favorite singer.
“I would pass out,” Gitana says.
“I would ask him to bring me up on stage,” Malika says.
“I would try not to scream,” Olivia says. “I would just say I’m a huge fan and that it would be awesome to hang out with him. I aspire to be a singer, too, so I would ask to record with him. I would try to act calm and collected, but I can’t promise anything.”
Sara Pauff, 706-320-4469