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On Justin Bieber’s BET Awards Nomination [Opinion]

Posted by ThatsMyJamRadio on May 23, 2010

Though we can’t quite place why, That’s My Jam is collectively baffled by a recent nomination for the 2010 BET Awards. Teen heartthrob and Usher’s protégé Justin Bieber has been nominated for Best New Artist.

Bieber, a Caucasian from Canada, received the honor this week for the awards show that will air on Sunday, June 27 — appropriately on Black Entertainment Television.

Regular readers of That’s My Jam know how appreciative we are of diversity. After all, the artists who create the music we love come from all corners of the globe and a variety of different backgrounds, so that’s not our issue.

Nor is it BET’s, who awarded M.I.A. the Best Female Hip-Hop Artist Award in 2009 and nominated Robin Thicke for Best Male R&B Artist in 2007. The network’s music programming has a long history of featuring artists from different racial backgrounds, including Lisa Stansfield, Corina and Lady GaGa.

And it isn’t as if Bieber hasn’t been embraced by mainstream black artists. Along with Usher serving as his mentor, he’s recorded a duet with Sean Kingston; received a shout out from Lil Wayne; and his hit single, “Baby,” features Ludacris. Another box in his favor.

Justin has also made the crucial stop at BET’s popular 106 & Park countdown show. We admit to not watching that particular episode, but in our regular interaction with the show’s audience, we haven’t quite seen Bieber Fever spread like wildfire. Still, he’s definitely on the demographic’s radar, and even that of some older members of the black community.

On paper, his nomination makes sense. But why are we still perplexed? We’re not quite sure. Perhaps we’re used to seeing “BET-accepted” white boys executing Justin Timberlake’s smooth moves or Jon B’s soulful sounds or Robin Thicke’s sensual style. One thing is certain: If The Bieb picks up a microphone to perform at the ceremony, many outside of BET’s usual audience will likely tune into the show, which would be a win for the network whose ratings were up significantly during last year’s ceremony — held a mere three days after the death of Michael Jackson.

The experience could be an out-of-the-box one for “visiting” audience members. Then again, perhaps that’s exactly what Bieber’s nomination is meant to encourage.

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