In the past couple of years, American entertainment journalists have, in the spirit of vinyl, transformed themselves into broken records and repeated the same questions about newer recording artists. One of these is how current or recent teen rock stars are going to make the difficult transition into successful adult stars. To many Canadians, this question makes little sense. The reason they are posing it is because, in the United States, many teen idols have been unable to replicate their success after they have become adults. I am not an expert on American music so will not attempt to list names of such artists.
In a blind act of ignorance, these critics have been asking the same question of Canadian recording artists. But for Canadian teen idols, the question does not apply. It would be like asking what Canadians are organizing for Independence Day celebrations. If we look at the history of Canadian popular music, we find that Canadian teen idols have had no problem continuing their success as adult singers. In many cases, they became even more successful as adults.
We can excuse the American journalists for their ignorance; they are ethnocentrically assuming that other countries face the same problems they do. What is inexcusable, however, is when Canadian journalists begin parroting the same questions the Americans do in asking whether a Canadian teen star is going to be successful as an adult. They should know better.
Let’s take a look at some of the successful Canadian teen stars over the years and whether or not they were able to score bit hits as adults.
Canada’s first teen rock star was Paul Anka. He was 16 years old when he topped the charts with “Diana”. At 18, he again topped the charts with “Lonely Boy”. When Paul was 33, he scored a #1 hit called “You’re Having My Baby” and later three more top 10 hits in the mid-70s. No problem for him.
Bobby Curtola was Canada’s next teen idol. In his case it was a matter of his deciding (with encouragement from Anka) to change his recording career into a more lucrative venture as a regular performer in Las Vegas as an adult.
Ginette Reno was a teen star scoring hits like “Non Papa” and “Tu Vivras Toujours Dans Mon Coeur”. As an adult singer, she has been even more successful, scoring massive hits and selling many records.
Andy Kim was another teen star. “How’d We Ever Get This Way” and “Baby I Love You” were his first huge hits in 1968-9. He was 16-17. As an adult, he scored the big hit “Rock Me Gently”.
Claude Dubois was 18 when his mammoth hits were released: “J’ai Souvenir Encore” and “Ma petite vie”. He had no trouble scoring hits as an adult up to the present day.
Celine Dion was a huge teen star. And she became a name all over the world as an adult. The same is true for Alanis Morissette. She scored six hits as a teen and her albums achieved gold and platinum certifications. As an adult singer, she became one of the biggest names in the world.
As for Avril Lavigne, it’s the same story. As an 18 year old, her biggest hit was “I’m with You” which made it to #18 on the charts. “Complicated” peaked at #21. But as an adult, she has done even better: six top 10 hits so far, one of which became the 3rd best-selling single of all-time worldwide by a Canadian artist.
There were also a number of Canadians who were teen stars as members of rock bands. As adults they enjoyed equally successful solo careers.
In conclusion, Canadian artists have not had any trouble carrying their success from their teens into their adult years. Americans take note and don’t try to rub your own misfortunes onto our recording artists. Canadian journalists: make your questions applicable to our own artists rather than plagiarizing foreign concerns.