By Mesfin Fekadu
NEW YORK (AP) — The kids are all right — at least in the music industry.
Take Justin Bieber: He's 17, has released three platinum efforts, earned Grammy nominations, released a top-selling movie and has sold out arenas around the world, putting him in the elite echelon of pop superstars.
But Bieber isn't the only young singer blazing the charts and outdoing his elders. Scotty McCreery was crowned "American Idol" champion this year and last month, the now 18-year-old became the youngest male to have his debut album open at No. 1 on Billboard's 200 albums chart.
Eleven-year-old Jackie Evancho has sold more than 1.5 million copies of her Christmas EP and her debut album, and has another Christmas project on the way; Willow Smith had grown people dancing in the clubs with her song "Whip My Hair"; and even 14-year-old Rebecca Black, though heavily ridiculed, had a viral hit with her song and music video "Friday."
Taylor Swift was only 16 when she released her 2006 self-titled, now multiplatinum debut. The country star believes young performers shouldn't be boxed into a "kids" category.
"I think an artist represents a certain thing that is all their own, and their age doesn't really have too much to do with it, in my opinion," the 21-year-old said.
Bieber, who came on the scene in 2009, knows fame can be fleeting, so he advises newcomers to "make sure you hold on to it and make sure you remember why you're in this position and not get lost in yourself."
MINDLESS BEHAVIOR (Prodigy, Princeton, Ray Ray, Roc Royal) - 14
For Mindless Behavior member Princeton, being in a boy band is more than just a career opportunity.
"It's really cool to me because growing up as a child, my mom didn't have any other kids, so being in this group, it's like I have three brothers," he said. "We're all similar and different in many ways, so we get along perfectly."
Prodigy, Ray Ray and Roc Royal round out the Los Angeles-based quartet. Roc Royal says the boys have been influenced by the Jackson 5, New Edition and B2K, and while their female fan base may not be as large, they are just as frenetic.
"Most of our songs talk about girls and everyone can relate to our songs," Roc Royal said. "We're looking for our No. 1 girl. That's why we named the album '(hash)1 Girl.'"
Their debut landed at No. 2 and No. 7 on the Billboard R&B and Top 200 albums chart, respectively.
The R&B-pop group also hit the No. 1 spot on BET's "106 & Park" with their music video for "Mrs. Right" and earned a nomination for viewer's choice at the channel's award show this year.
They have toured with Jason Derulo, the Backstreet Boys and Justin Bieber, who encouraged the 14-year-olds to "stay together, stay humble and stay kids while you're in this business," Princeton recalled.
They also hit the road with Janet Jackson, who gave them iPods.
"She actually gave us a good compliment, she said we reminded her of her brothers when she was younger," Roc Royal said.