After IHOP, Bieber pilots the Range Rover toward his vocal coach's studio, where he does a lot of Dougieing in front of a mirror, as well as some sort of odd dance that makes him look like a Benihana chef. "I'm cooking," he yelps, "Ninja moves, I'm making food!"
The studio is where Bieber is happiest. "Justin really cares about his music, and he just wants people to give it a chance," says Braun. "He wants to earn the respect of what he thinks are his peers, even if they're not because they're older than him." Bieber's coach Jan Smith, a.k.a. "Mama Jan," a no-nonsense blonde with a small dog in tow, appears, waving a hand to call him in, though he stops to play with her dog first. Bieber has a dog, Sammy, that he doesn't see as much as he'd like: "But now, when I show up, he runs to my grandpa and not to me," says Bieber. He then sticks his bottom lip out and makes the cutest pouty face ever seen on a male.
"Come over here, Mr. Danceaholic," says Mama Jan, and Bieber follows her into the recording booth, where he sits at a console. His fingers flying over the console keys, he starts off with some drumbeats, and then layers a Spanish guitar and some high-hats, before jumping into the vocal booth to perform some lyrics that he wrote down on his iPhone. "We're providing him with creative time instead of having writers put it on him," Jan says. "This allows him to be part of his process. Not all artists have that." In the booth: "I got a big hole in my heart, baby," he croons. "I loved you from the start." As soon as the mic is off, he goes, "Swag, swag."
When it's time for vocal training, Bieber takes off his gigantic black diamond tags, then drops for 20 push-ups, to warm up his chest. "When guys start going through puberty, the testosterone kicks in, which is what makes vocal cords thicker, so we've been working on getting Justin's high end back, those real clean high notes," says Jan. "All of a sudden, on his last tour, his voice started to change. He's got a nice tone to his voice now, a good texture, but it doesn't sound like what his fans think he sounds like."
As he starts a series of scales, Jan nods approvingly. "I think he'll get four octaves eventually," says Jan. "He's still young, and he's got a long, lean muscle aperture. Anything past three is just gravy." She turns to him. "You've got 3.2 octaves now."
"You said 3.3 clean yesterday!" he says.
"Well, it's the best shape you've been in for a while," she says.
"I'm going to get more octaves than Usher, swag," says Bieber. "Did you know that Usher held the longest note ever in a Broadway show?"
"Uh, that's Barbra Streisand, actually – she holds the record for the longest note ever recorded," says Jan. "Eighteen seconds, in A Star Is Born."
Bieber snickers a little. "How do you know she didn't punch in?"
"Well," says Jan, "back then, it was analog."
Bieber goes to leave, but then stops in front of the doorjamb, where there's a bunch of lines in pencil, beginning a couple of years ago, and the last one about a week ago. This is the growth of the Bieber: It's OK, maybe three or four inches. He pulls his body up straight. "Am I taller?" he asks, about four or five times, as Jan swipes a pencil over his head.
He whips around to inspect it – a whole half-inch! Could it be? This is amazing!
"Ah, I think there's something going on there," says Jan, trying to make the addition or nonaddition of height less of a big deal. "It's your hair."
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