If you have a teen, chances are you’ve heard plenty about Harry Styles, Selena Gomez and Cody Simpson. You may have read about who Taylor Swift is dating, or listened to your girls sing along to Ariana Grande, but how much do you really know about these pop stars who occupy 78.5 percent* of your teen’s daily thoughts?
You may not think this is important knowledge to possess, but someday you’re going to be at a dinner party and the talk will turn from foreign affairs and mutual funds to the Teen Choice Awards, and trust me—you don’t want to be the only one asking if Justin Bieber is the lead singer of One Direction.
1. Justin Bieber
Justin Bieber is probably one of the most sought-after pop stars on the planet right now, as witnessed by these girls in Mexico losing it when his concert sold out before they could get tickets. Just imagine how you would feel if you got to Costco and they had just run out of rotisserie chickens:
He’s super popular with the girls, and was popular with the parents, too—until recently when he started appearing shirtless too often and peeing in buckets in public. In other words, he’s starting to act like a teenager and parents don’t like it one bit.
Hit Song You’ve Probably Heard: "Boyfriend"
2. One Direction
These boys were brought together while auditioning separately for The X Factor. And don’t lie—you’ve sung along to "That’s What Makes You Beautiful" at least once while driving carpool. Who could resist the catchy melodies sung by Harry Styles, Zayn Malik, Niall Horan, Liam Payne and Louis Tomlinson? (Tuck those names away and casually drop them in conversation sometime. I guarantee you’re going to impress the hell out of someone in Pinkberry.)
Hit Song You’ve Probably Heard: "That’s What Makes You Beautiful"
3. Taylor Swift
It’s true that Taylor has dated John Mayer, Joe Jonas, Jake Gyllenhaal, Harry Styles and at least one Kennedy and then wrote revealing songs about their breakups. But as my daughter says, “Everybody writes songs about their relationships, but it’s only an issue because she’s a girl.” She’s right, you know—you don’t see anyone giving Weezy grief when he sings about “Knocking Hoes down like Laila Ali.” (Weezy is the nickname for Lil' Wayne, by the way. This will be covered in my next post, Rappers Nicknames: A Primer.)
Hit Song You’ve Probably Heard: "I Knew You Were Trouble"
4. Cody Simpson
Three years ago this Australian 16-year-old was singing cover songs in his bedroom and posting them on YouTube, and now he’s on tour with Justin Bieber and headlining concerts on his own. That just goes to show you the power of the Internet—and an adorable Aussie accent. Also of note: This kid has biceps completely unnatural and slightly disturbing on someone who is barely old enough to drive.
Hit Song You’ve Probably Heard: "Pretty Brown Eyes"
5. Selena Gomez
Would this 21-year-old be as popular as she is today if she hadn’t dated Justin Bieber? Hard to say. Although she did star in a hit Disney show, The Wizards of Weatherly Place, her career as a singer seemed to really take off after she started dating the Biebs. (Carly "Call Me Maybe" Rae Jepsen’s career was launched by Justin, too. He’s like a regular snapback wearing, bucket-peeing, shirtless Svengali!)
Hit Song You’ve Probably Heard: "I Love You Like A Love Song"
6. Demi Lovato
Demi got her start in the Disney machine as well, first starring in the TV movie Camp Rock along with the Jonas Brothers and later in her series Sonny With A Chance. She had a recent brief stay in rehab but bounced back with a hit album, and now she’s a judge on The X Factor. Her single "Give Your Heart a Break" was recently voted "Song Your Mom Will Most Likely Start Singing Along to Even Though She Doesn’t Know The Words."
Hit Song You’ve Probably Heard: "Give Your Heart a Break" (Get the lyrics here before you embarrass yourself.)
7. Big Time Rush
In the battle of the current boybands, Big Time Rush would definitely lose out to One Direction, but that doesn’t mean that Kendall Schmidt, James Maslow, Carlos Pena, Jr. and Logan Henderson can’t carry a tune and whip the girls into a frenzy. (Or was that "carry a girl and whip the tunes into a frenzy"?) Like One Direction, they were also sprung from the loins of a TV show—their own Nickelodeon series titled, Big Time Rush, about a boy band. Hey, if you want originality go listen to one of your fancy shows on NPR.
Hit Song You’ve Probably Heard: "Boyfriend" (not to be confused with Justin Bieber’s "Boyfriend")
8. Ariana Grande
One of the newest entries to the popstar circuit, Ariana Grande comes from—surprise—a TV show, and recently hit it big with her first single, "The Way," which became a top 40 hit. She currently stars in the Nickelodeon series Sam & Cat along with Jennette McCurdy (who is also a country singer) and previously starred in Victorious along with Victoria Justice, who is also a singer and is now touring with Big Time Rush. (My God, make it stop!)
Hit Song You’ve Probably Heard: "The Way"
*Not an actual scientific statistic. This number was pulled out of thin air because it sounded impressive.