The Secret

Austin Mahone is a good boy, and he knows it. On his cheery debut minialbum, the Bieber-esque YouTube sensation – newly 18 and signed to Lil Wayne's label – puts the tween-girl fans he calls Mahomies on a pedestal. "You ask what I like about you/Ooh, I love it all," he tenderly insists on the squishy ballad "All I Ever Need," which borrows some stuttery phrasing from R. Kelly's 2007 hit "I'm a Flirt." Most of the mooning, though, evokes 'NSync in feisty sugar-rush mode. And the lyrics glorify an even more distant time, when boys weren't supposed to romance girls so much as rescue them. Mahone doesn't fill the void left by Justin Bieber – he embodies it.

From The Archives Issue 1210: June 5, 2014