2. Thou shalt provide thy hero with a helpmate in the form of an attractive and somewhat younger heroine, also intelligent, usually possessed of wisdom in a complimentary field that she may assist thy hero without duplicating his skills.
3. Thou shalt begin thy story with a violent death, usually of a good person, who may be associated with the hero, but dost not have to be.
4. Thou shalt include in thy story a secretive organization, usually one that has been around for donkey’s years and has links to history and may also have had famous people as members.
5. Thy hero shalt progress through a maze of mysteries and puzzles and must solve the immediate step in the puzzle before he be allowed to progress to the next stage in thy story.
6. Thou shalt put obstacles in the path of thy hero in the form of a strong and dastardly villain that art trying to stop thy hero and foil his efforts. Thy dastardly villain shall be willing to resort to committing the most heinous of crimes in pursuit of his nefarious agenda. However, thy dastardly villain shall not act on his own initiative or in his own interests but rather shall he be subservient to shadowy figures in the background of thy story.
7. The masters of thy dastardly villain shall be a powerful organization (see 4th Commandment) that hath a vested interest in foiling the hero because he doth threaten their interests or the established order.
8. Thou shalt set thy story in an exotic location, or series of locations, that playeth a major part in thy story or in the historical background to thy story.
9. Towards the end of thy story, it shall finally dawn upon thy hero (as it surely hath already on most of thy readers) that the hero is being betrayed by one who is close to him (but not the female lead) and that the traitor be associated with the very organization that hath been trying to stop thy hero all along.
10. Notwithstanding thy hero’s sense of righteous indignation at the betrayal, he shall surely solve the final step in the mystery and successfully overcome the obstacles, without the aid of the Almighty, but with some help from the heroine, with whom he shall end up with in a state of transient connubial bliss (albeit outside the bonds of holy matrimony).
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For a great summer read – look no further.
I have noticed, every time I log on to YouTube to listen to my favourite music from the sixties through the eighties, that there is invariably some disparaging comment, contrasting the music of Justin Bieber with the great music of the sixties to eighties. I have seen this on YouTube videos of everyone from The Seekers to Jethro Tull to Melanie Safka, from Abba to Jim Croce to Dire Straits, from the Alan Parsons Project to Ace of Base. Whilst I certainly prefer all those acts – and many more – to anything that Justin Bieber has done thus far, I think those critics are being unfair to him – on a number of counts.
First of all, let us not forget that Justin Bieber is very young, barely seventeen, and has not really had the time to develop genuine musical sophistication. In spite of this, he managed to teach himself to play the guitar (left-handed), piano, trumpet and drums – and all by the time he was fourteen. To learn to play even one musical instrument is hard. To teach oneself to play four takes a degree of dedication that your average X-factor contestant, or even winner, simply does not have. It is for that reason that I suspect Justin Bieber has the kind of staying power in the music industry to avoid being a here-today-gone tomorrow supernova, as well as the self-discipline to avoid the all-too-familiar burnout that plagues the likes of Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan.
But what implication does this have for his music? To answer that question we must look at older musical talent that has stayed the course. They may differ from each in many respects but the one thing they have in common is a tendency to change their styles as they mature, to experiment with different forms and develop new and changing interests in all aspects of music. I am not talking about Madonna reinventing herself every few years, although that is an aspect of the same phenomenon – and she is certain a role model when it comes to an almost Spartan regime of self-discipline. I am talking about people like Tom Jones trying his hand – and vocal chords – at religious music, Bob Dylan risking the wrath of the hippie crowd by picking up an electric guitar or Ricky Nelson moving away from fifties rock-and -oll to become Rick Nelson.
Not every transformation is equally good in the eyes of everyone. I still prefer the old BeeGees in melodious sixties “Run to Me” style than their pseudo-macho “Staying Alive” era. And I don’t like it when sixties artists re-record their hits at half the tempo, whether it be “Both Sides Now” or “Hello World.” But my personal preferences are not the point. It is the capacity to change ones style whilst living by the doctrine “above all to thine own self be true,” – as much as Alice Cooper’s dictum about separating ones public from by ones private persona – that enables some to stay the course while others fall by the wayside.
And this is the lesson that the old fogies of pop and rock can teach Justin Bieber. As he matures and grows musically, it is inevitable that he will vary his style and experiment with different forms. If he can also avoid the pitfalls that come with being surrounded by yes-men then we can be sure that he will stay the course and enrich the world with his music for many years to come.