C.J.: Austin Mahone had 'em in tears at Mall of America

  • Article by: C.J. , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 26, 2013 - 5:52 PM

Justin Bieber or Austin Mahone? Give me an “A” in this battle of the heartthrobs.

A June/July posting on Details.com asked, “Could Austin Mahone Be Bigger Than Bieber?”

Shooting to fame as a YouTube sensation (just like Canada’s Bieber), this teen pop singer from Texas was at Mall of America’s Nickelodeon Universe on Tuesday for a KDWB-FM appearance.

The girls had a fit and declared him “hot.”

Mahone’s already being treated like a rock star, as he reportedly has the requisite staff of demanding handlers, though he reportedly was very nice. He did not deign to do interviews with the media.

Why wouldn’t he be nice? The mop-haired bubble-gummer is worth $5 million, according to celebritynetworth.com, which estimates that Bieber is worth $110 million.

Mahone has some money to make, although lately it feels as if we’re getting our money’s worth of trouble out of Bieber, who can’t find a belt or shirt, can’t be bothered to urinate in a restroom and spends time with reckless-driver friends who seem to be aiding and abetting Biebs’ desire to come off like a junior thug.

I assume Mahone’s noticed that Bieber is writing the handbook for what teen singers shouldn’t do.

By contrast, I found Mahone more handsome and his voice every bit as good and interesting as Biebs’. I wasn’t alone.

Kaylee Mason of Keokuk, Iowa, told me that while Bieber and Mahone are both pop performers, “They have different styles” — and she thinks Bieber should clean up his. “The way he dresses and way he talks, getting in fights and in the news all the time about inappropriate stuff. He should be on the news for good stuff like he used to. He’s an adult, he can do what he wants, but a lot of it is inappropriate for his little fans.”

Still, when asked who’s likely to have the lengthier career, Mason said, “Justin Bieber.”

I did not ask Keyshonna Bell, of Minneapolis, for a career timeline estimate of the icons. She was on a cloud after being among the VIPs to have a private greeting session with Mahone before he performed.

“Everything happened at once, and it was all fast,” Bell said. “It was still the best day of my life, though.”

Best day of your life? And you’re how old? “I’m 12,” said Bell.

Alexia Reyes, 17, from South Sioux City, Neb., was standing next to Abagaile Vaydich, 17, of Dakota City, Neb., when both of them told me, “Austin is way better” than Bieber. Vaydich said it first.

Reyes elaborated, noting that Bieber has become “a little less family-oriented. They started out the same way, but Austin has a better approach” to being family-friendly.

Well, that could change if Mahone keeps collaborating with the likes of Flo Rida, featured on Austin’s remake of a Biz Markie’s tune that has to be older than most of the kids at the MOA Tuesday.

I would appreciate anyone who could “Say Somethin’ ” that would explain the tears that flow when seeing a teen idol. Check my startribune.com/video to see if I captured you singing or crying.

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