Justin Bieber's Never Say Never: now I'm a Belieber (nearly)

My daughter almost collapsed with emotion when Justin Bieber brushed past at his film premiere. And I'm beginning to see why

What do you do when your teenage daughter starts hyperventilating? Along with 5,000 others. If there were a doctor in the house, they'd never hear you anyway, because the few who could still breathe at last night's premiere of Justin Bieber: Never Say Never were screaming at the top of their ear-piercing voices.

As soon as the 16-year-old arrived on O2 Arena's purple carpet (purple, as everyone there knew, is his favourite colour), delirium set in: girls in tears, sobbing, wailing, at the mere sight of the boy wonder from Stratford, Ontario. Two years ago he was an unknown – indeed, he wasn't even big in Stratford (pop: 32,000). But since he was discovered via his YouTube videos, and taken under the wing of R&B star Usher, he's become a global sensation, with millions of teen and pre-teen "Beliebers", all insanely in love with him. One of whom is my daughter, Chioma.

Ever since she'd heard of the event, and the chance to get up close to him, she'd been in a state of increasing excitement. As his car pulls up outside the arena, beamed live to a screen above the carpet, the screams reach fever pitch. "Omygod … Omygod. Omygod." She can no longer scream. She can no longer breathe. She's in tears. I want to film her but, for the first time in her life, she doesn't want to be on camera.

After a live interview broadcast to the crowds, Bieber moves on to the carpet itself. The problem is that he's so short (5ft 7in – another first-base fact for Beliebers), he gets lost in the crowd as cameras and microphones swirl around him.

Suddenly we spot his entourage coming towards us: first, his manager, then his bodyguard. They both play a big part in the movie itself, which Chioma and I have seen the night before. Never Say Never is the story of Bieber's life, all 16 years of it, so far. Despite being told repeatedly that it's bound to be the best thing in the universe, evaah, I was not looking forward to it one bit. Sugar-coated schmaltz, in 3D, poking you right in the face.

But despite my best efforts, I found myself warming to him: born to a teenage mum, brought up largely by grandparents after his dad exits the scene. Never had a singing lesson – this is the opposite of the standard tale of pushy parents and mogul-created pop stars. Bieber says the film is about "never giving up hope", and why you should "keep chasing your dreams". Particularly striking for me was his incredible musical ability, evident from the age of two, as shown by his early home videos. Particularly striking for a teenage fan like Chioma, was the 3D concert footage. You could almost touch him.

Suddenly, back on the carpet, just five metres away, the Bieb himself. Even in the press pen things got manic. The seasoned hacks said they'd never witnessed this kind of hysteria at a premiere – more noise, apparently, than even Harry Potter can trigger. A couple of questions are fired at Bieber. He's now three feet away, but with all the noise I can't work out what he's saying. Chioma grabs at him. She touches his arm but he doesn't look towards her. She tries to get him to sign her copy of Bieber's autobiography, but by now he's whisked away, off into the cinema. She's upset. This is her future husband, after all.

Later, in the cinema, though, there's an unexpected bonus. Before the screening, Bieber comes on stage. He thanks his fans, and then bursts into a rendition of the theme song, Never Say Never. The audience go wild. This must be what it was like to be a Beatle. As I walk out I see more girls sobbing, makeup smudged all over their faces, taking home their "I heart Justin" placards, a bedraggled purple line making its way back to the tube station. They must be happy, but they look distraught, drained.

Next month they'll be back here going through the same emotional extremes, when Bieber performs at the O2 as part of his European tour. It's tough being a Belieber.


Joseph Harker

The GuardianTramp

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