Why must I be a teenager in the pop business?

Monica's career, as she volleys from stretch limo to recording studio to nightclub, will be watched, with a degree of wistfulness, by those who have been there before. Fifteen, sharp, sassy, street-wise and apparently switched-on she may be, but the question still remains: where will she be at 20? Or worse, at 30?

For all her looks, Monica is a child star. And the suspicion with child stars is that they have been pushed, maybe not reluctantly but certainly against the natural course of things. Every year, hordes of precocious off-spring are forced on to the stage by parents or Fagin-style sponsors, anxious to live out their own delusions and fantasies through the brats. Or, if nothing else, to make some quick money. Occasionally, very occasionally, the child being force-marched into celebrity has sufficient talent to win through and make it. Monica clearly has star quality, just as Tiffany or Debbie Gibson, Lulu even, wobbling her bob and yelling "Shout" as a loud 15-year-old, did before her. Usually, though, that talent is not so much nurtured by the desperate pushers on the shoulder, as painfully hammered into shape. Michael Jackson, Brian Wilson and even Donny Osmond felt that: a vigorous force-feeding akin to that inflicted on those fois gras geese which are threaded by the throat to tubes of feed in order to bloat the liver.

For those doing the feeding, it is an easy job. Fame is what every 15-year-old plucking air guitar in front of the bedroom mirror craves. It's easy to make them abandon all other aspects of life to concentrate on attaining it. And fame must be reached as quickly as possible. Never mind that the recipient might be mentally more equipped to handle it a few years down the line; never mind that the compromises required to attain it might mean that fame is fleeting (Tiffany is not, as we speak, the biggest of sellers in the pop market); never mind that the mental scars of the force-feeding might never go away. Michael Jackson is but one example of those who, without the experience of a free and genuine adolescence, find adulthood an impossible burden to bear. As in tennis (witness Andrea Jaeger and Jennifer Capriati), if the teenage pop star is not allowed the room to make mistakes young, then they will make them old, big time.

But even if you escape with your psyche intact, the worst thing about being a child star is that you remain a child star for the rest of your life. The recent pitiful attempts by Donny Osmond to re-invigorate his career as a sort of born-again George Michael, all leather jacket and stubble, were blighted simply because our memory of him was as the fresh- faced teen singing weedy songs about deferred consummation. Debbie Gibson, too, the 15-year-old who tapped into the market of her over-indulged peers and made a name for herself singing in the shopping malls of the Californian valleys, attempted a come-back last year. It wasn't a bad album, she had written many of the songs and had paid large proportions of her youthful earnings to have them properly produced. But listening to it, it was impossible to forget that the women in her twenties singing about womanly things was Debbie Gibson, who will be, in our minds, for ever 15.

It will never occur to Monica that she might grow old. And if it does, there are always examples of those child stars who have grown old with dignity and integrity to comfort her fears: Stevie Wonder or, well, Stevie Wonder.

But if she does have nightmares, they might well take the shape of a concert at the old Town & Country Club in London a few years ago. On stage was Dion Di Mucci, who had, at the age of fortysomething, produced a pretty decent come-back album. The place was full and attentive as Di Mucci, a Simon Bates lookalike with a middle-aged spread to match, essayed his new material about urban decay and emotional wastelands. So attentive was his audience that an encore was called for. And Di Mucci came out on stage and said, "I suppose this is what you want to hear" before twanging the song he wrote as a 15-year-old in the Bronx. "Why Must I Be a Teenager in Love" he sang. There have probably been more humiliated and embarrassed performances in the history of pop, but I have never seen them.

Arts and Entertainment
Reawakening: can Jon Hamm’s Don Draper find enlightenment in the final ‘Mad Men’?
tv reviewNot quite, but it's an enlightening finale for Don Draper spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Breakfast Show’s Nick Grimshaw

Radio
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment

Eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
'Youth' cast members Paul Dano, Jane Fonda, Harvey Keitel, Rachel Weisz, and Michael Caine pose for photographers at Cannes Film Festival
film
Arts and Entertainment
Adam West as Batman and Burt Ward and Robin in the 1960s Batman TV show

Comics
Arts and Entertainment
I am flute: Azeem Ward and his now-famous instrument
music
Arts and Entertainment
A glass act: Dr Chris van Tulleken (left) and twin Xand get set for their drinking challenge
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
MIA perform at Lovebox 2014 in London Fields, Hackney

music
Arts and Entertainment
Finnish punk band PKN hope to enter Eurovision 2015 and raise awareness for Down's Syndrome

eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
William Shakespeare on the cover of John Gerard's The Herball or Generall Historie of Plantes

books
Arts and Entertainment

Game of Thrones review
Arts and Entertainment
Grayson Perry dedicates his Essex home to Julie

Potter's attempt to create an Essex Taj Mahal was a lovely treat

tv
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the original Swedish version of the sci-fi TV drama ‘Real Humans’
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Hugh Keays-Byrne plays Immortan Joe, the terrifying gang leader, in the new film
filmActor who played Toecutter returns - but as a different villain in reboot
Arts and Entertainment
Charlize Theron as Imperator Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road
film
Arts and Entertainment
Jessica Hynes in W1A
tvReview: Perhaps the creators of W1A should lay off the copy and paste function spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Power play: Mitsuko Uchida in concert

classical
Arts and Entertainment
Dangerous liaisons: Dominic West, Jake Richard Siciliano, Maura Tierney and Leya Catlett in ‘The Affair’ – a contradictory drama but one which is sure to reel the viewers in
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Herring, pictured performing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival two years ago
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
Music freak: Max Runham in the funfair band
theatre
Arts and Entertainment
film 'I felt under-used by Hollywood'
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study

    One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
    From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

    Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

    'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
    'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

    Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

    This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

    Songs from the bell jar

    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
    How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

    One man's day in high heels

    ...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
    The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

    King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

    The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

    End of the Aussie brain drain

    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
    Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

    Can meditation be bad for you?

    Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
    Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

    Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

    Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
    Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

    Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

    Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
    Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

    Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

    Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
    Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

    Join the tequila gold rush

    The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
    12 best statement wallpapers

    12 best statement wallpapers

    Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
    Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

    Paul Scholes column

    Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?