Pop Life

Worst of the Weekend: Justin Bieber, the K-Pop "Sex Slaves" & More

Perhaps Monday is the wrong day to point out the errors in judgment and straight-up malfeasances that can plague music. It’s already the sorriest day on the calendar, so why pile on? The short answer is: because we can. And, further, we must, especially when the misguided and wrong that’s been done to our mutual love has occurred over an otherwise wonderful hiatus from the demands of a typical week. Because even music isn’t immune to bad news on Saturday or Sunday, here’s your music world’s Worst of the Weekend:


Thursday night, TMZ snapped photos of Justin Bieber getting a traffic ticket, or at least a stern talking-to from the L.A.P.D. Acting on the rationale that has served him well in his young life, the pop star owns a Ferrari, so he flaunted it by burning more rubber around Southen California than ten porn stars combined. Long ago, it became too easy to swing at the low-hanging piñata that Bieber had become due to his man-childishness. But there are at least a couple of good reasons to include this latest act among the weekend's worst. For one, a car can go from mode of transportation to deadly weapon with little notice. Bieber would argue he had control of the Ferrari, but if there’s anyone who should realize how little control anyone has over anything, it should be a guy whose YouTube videos were luckily seen by the right people and then vaulted into global superstardom. The other reason is Bieber is actually now at a stage in his career where his work is getting critical acclaim, not for being good-for-his-age or as something that has drawn a massive following based on his looks. I sat with a bunch of music critics at an event this week and many had good things to say about his new album, Purpose. There’s certainly no requirement that an artist’s personality matures as rapidly as his or her work, but there’s no harm in hoping for it, either.

What the hell, NBC? Two Thursdays in a row, the network has presented music-based programming and disappointed hate watchers everywhere. While it was fun watching Twitter explode with NeYo-Dab tweets during The Wiz Live! and nice seeing Dolly Parton get deserved, respectful treatment from viewers of Dolly Parton's Coat of Many Colors, the mean-spirited among us were mostly just bored. We’re tired of directing our verbal acuity at dull subjects like politicians. What we need is a live version of Cats, starring the judges from The Voice. Imagine the hateful possibilities! Until then, we’ll just have to continue watching whatever's left of the current American Horror Story, which has provided plenty of hate-tweet fodder this season.

This weekend, Yahoo Music did a bit on the highly vilified Turing Pharmaceuticals CEO, Martin Shkreli. The post followed up on the news he was the secret purchaser of Wu-Tang Clan’s Once Upon A Time in Shaolin, reportedly bought for $2 million. The new news, according to Yahoo, is Shkreli is using his purchase to attempt to woo Taylor Swift into a private listening party. Apparently, he tweeted he had not heard the album yet but would slap it on the turntable if Swift wanted to join him for a first listen. Uh,...creepy.  Also reported, he fancies himself an MC who is in search of dope beats for his straight outta Wall Street rhyme skills. We’re much less concerned about Swift than rap music here. She’s proven far more judicious in decision making than the genre, which has allowed Chief Keef and Soulja Boy careers. We can always hope he’ll be turned down by both, but go ahead and count on some money-seeking producer to chase fame and fortune on “Scrilla” Shkreli’s coattails.

Vibe reported Saturday that Big Sean’s home had been burglarized and that the thieves added insult to injury by leaving the Detroit rapper a note telling him how to retrieve his stolen stuff. This proved nauseatingly egregious because, according to Vibe, when the authorities attempted to contact the perpetrators it led to a dead end, as if the ransom note was nothing more than a chance to taunt the victim. Why? What grievance could these criminals have harbored against Big Sean? Why single him out when, in his words, “I Don’t Fuck With You?” As someone who’s been the victim of a burglary, losing store bought items feels bad, but it’s way less infuriating than knowing lowlife bottom-feeders have been rifling through your personal stuff. There’s a special place in hell for these soulless vermin who steal away our sense of security, like just another material item to toss into a bag of burgled goods. Because they’re brainless idiots who feed off the fortunes of others – and because they stole from someone who is famous, which they’re 100 percent certain to boast about – they’ll be in jail very soon.


What would your first thought be if you saw eight young, cute Asian women arriving from overseas together on one plane? Maybe you’d believe they were coeds here in the states for some collegiate event. You might consider them all members of the same family on holiday. Or, if you know your K-Pop, you could correctly have identified them as Oh My Girl, one of the genre’s newest sensations. But, not if you’re U.S. Customs at Los Angeles International Airport. Those folks took one look at the group and thought “sex slaves.” According to various news outlets, the band was detained for 15 hours while customs tried to verify they weren’t sex trafficking victims. While it’s undoubtedly better to be safe than sorry in an instance like this, one wonders if U.S. Customs believes traffickers would fly their victims in together as a team, on commercial flights, with a plethora of attention-grabbing costumes and props to boot. We’re not experts, but it seems unlikely. According to a BBC report, the group was so insulted by the snap judgment it returned to South Korea without doing the promotional work it had come to the States for in the first place. L.A. Weekly reportedly spoke with a U.S. Customs official who said the group was not misidentified nor detained, but simply was denied entry due to a visa snafu.

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Jesse’s been writing for the Houston Press since 2013. His work has appeared elsewhere, notably on the desk of the English teacher of his high school girlfriend, Tish. The teacher recognized Jesse’s writing and gave Tish a failing grade for the essay. Tish and Jesse celebrated their 33rd anniversary as a couple in October.