What happened to the other viral-video singers discovered by major labels last decade?
Browse through Justin Bieber's original YouTube page, and you'll come across a time capsule of a video showing how things have changed for Bieber—and for pop—in the last four years. In the clip, the even-scrawnier-than-he-is-now Canuck sings a Chris Brown song for a 20-something girl named Esmée Denters, who sits watching Bieber with what looks like a forced smile on her face, nods along politely, and rewards his performance with an incredulous, "Wow, that was awesome." Everything she does makes it seem as if when this was filmed, Denters was the more established star.
Which, of course, actually was the case in 2008 when the video was posted. Back then, Bieber was barely breaking, but the Dutch ingénue Denters had already amassed an international following of millions on YouTube by posting pixelated videos of herself singing late '90s R&B. She soon appeared on Oprah and was eventually signed by Justin Timberlake in a manner not unlike the eventual Bieber-Usher entente.
Today, of course, Bieber is everywhere. The 18-year-old released his third full-length album Tuesday, and in the span of an hour, managed to sell out every single seat of every single stop of his 45-show American tour earlier this month. By most reasonable measures, Denters, on the other hand, is nowhere. The record she released—with much help from Timberlake—failed to chart in the U.S. She's set to release a sophomore disc, but have you heard about it?