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TV Review: This is Justin Bieber

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TLC premieres a special presentation featuring teen music sensation Justin Bieber, This is Justin Bieber, on Wednesday, December 21 at 9 p.m. ET. Part holiday special, part mini-documentary, the special offers a glimpse into Justin’s madcap touring schedule, as well as incorporating some biographical footage fans may recognize from his feature-length concert movie, Never Say Never.

Bieber first came to attention in 2008 after his mother posted videos of him peforming songs on YouTube. Manager Scooter Braun introduced him to his idol Usher, who immediately wanted to help manage his career, and he was soon signed to Island Records with L.A. Reid. In just two short years he has become a major pop success story, including albums, videos, television appearances, and film. He is now poised to premiere his very first television special.

In This is Justin Bieber Justin performs several acoustic versions of songs from his recently released holiday album, Under the Mistletoe, including “Mistletoe,” “Santa Claus is Coming to Town,” and his own hip-hop influenced version of “The Little Drummer Boy,” “Drummer Boy,” with help from British rapper Tinie Tempah.

The special was filmed during a visit to London. Exhausted from coming off a multi-city tour, but always willing to please his fans, Justin is toured around London in a double-decker bus. Host Reggie Yates (Top of the Pops, Dance Factory) shows him all of the top tourist sights of London, but also takes him to perform for fans at a busy mall, light a giant Christmas tree, and visit the Chelsea Football Club, which is lots of fun for Justin, who gets to meet players Frank Lampard and Fernando Torres and even kick a few balls with them around the field. There are definite perks to being a multi-platinum-selling teen pop star. But the power of his popularity really comes through when he visits a teen cancer ward and lights up the faces of the residents as if they were front row at his concert.

There is plenty of music in the hour-long special, too. Fans will be pleased to hear live versions of favorite tunes like “Never Say Never,” “Pray” (seated at a grand piano), and his cover of Usher’s “You Got it Bad.” This is Justin Bieber is a new sort of holiday special. Clearly inspired by The Beatles’ A Hard Day’s Night, it shows how pop idols are still an important part of young girls’ lives and obsessions. 

Justin ends the show with his biggest hit, “Baby,” closing with an energetic drum solo, a huge smile on his face. Part of his appeal is that he seems to be having as much fun as his fans, which comes through loud and clear in This is Justin Bieber.

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