Justin Bieber has cancelled all future meet-and-greets, and who can blame him? Meet-and-greets are weird — we've gathered the highs and the lows
Justin Bieber broke a million hearts this morning when he announced that he’d be cancelling all future meet-and-greets with his fans. The tour cited a security violation as the reason for the cancellation, but Bieber explained the real reason on his Instagram: they left him feeling “mentally and emotionally exhausted to the point of depression”.
Looking at a timelapse of one of Bieber's meet-and-greets, should this come as a surprise? Meet-and-greets are, after all, very weird: fans pay ludicrous amounts of money to spend a few minutes making awkward small talk with pop stars, while pop stars have to go along with it knowing that they’re nothing like the perception that the fans have built up in their head. It’s not that musicians don’t love their fans — it’s just that there’s a major difference between feeling someone’s appreciation from the stage and confronting that reality in the flesh.
Still, there are some artists who are just better equipped at dealing with meet-and-greets: generally speaking, artists who’ve embraced their own social media channels are more content to interact with their fans than those who’ve been media-trained to repress their own personalities. We’ve rounded up a few of the best and worst meet-and-greets that have made it onto the web.
THE BAD: LIAM PAYNE
One Direction fans are popularly perceived to be obsessive and creepy, but it’s not an entirely fair reputation. It isn’t that unreasonable that fans would want to nab a selfie with Liam Payne when he’s in town, for example. The problem is that there are a lot of One Direction fans, and pretending to be enthusiastic about meeting them all can't last forever — as evidenced by this Vine from 2014. Witness Payne’s expression as he drifts from photo to photo, flitting from perfect smile to sheer grimace and back again.
THE BAD: AVRIL LAVIGNE
During Avril Lavigne’s 2014 tour of Brazil, fans could pay $400 for the privilege of hanging out with the pop-punk singer. It came with a stipulation, though: security insisted that no one should touch her during the meeting. Photos of the awkward encounters emerged online and quickly went viral, which resulting in Lavigne insisting that she does indeed touch her fans, and that fans should feel free to touch her as much as they want — presumably making future meet-and-greets a million times more awkward than they would’ve been otherwise.
THE BAD: BRITNEY SPEARS
One of the more peculiar aspects of meet-and-greets is how much fans are willing to pay for a few moments next to their idol. Back in 2014, Britney Spears embarked on a two-year-long residency at Las Vegas, with fans able to pay $2,500 to get front row seats to the show, receive a merch bundle, and attend an aftershow meet. Reports afterwards suggested that Britney was only present for a few seconds and barely spoke — and we’re willing to believe these accounts given the photo evidence of the night. Behind the fake smile, presumably, lies an empty void. There's even a Tumblr dedicated to her awkward fan photos.
THE GOOD: TAYLOR SWIFT
Taylor Swift’s entire brand is built on the idea that she’s everyone’s BFF, and she does seem to genuinely enjoy the company of her fans. Presumably Taylor decided that if she’s gonna have to go through the whole rigmarole of superstardom, she might as well have fun while she’s doing it. Her meet-and-greet photos were compared against Avril Lavigne’s, causing the latter to issue a rebuttal: “Comparison is judging and judging a person does not define who they are it defines who you are.”
THE GOOD: RIHANNA
Rihanna clearly doesn’t give too much of a fuck about meeting fans. There are albums and albums and albums up on Facebook of her meet-and-greets from her LOUD tour in 2011, and everyone seems to be having fun in the photos. More recently, she and Drake met a 14-year-old fan suffering from cancer for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Meeting Rihanna looks exactly like you think it might – loads of fun.
THE GOOD: PITBULL
Back in 2012, a press release landed in the inbox of music journalist and Twitter comedian David Thorpe about an awful branded competition whereby Pitbull would perform in the town whose Wal-Mart had the highest number of Facebook likes. Thorpe started a campaign to send the singer to the most remote location he could find, eventually resulting in the singer visiting the Wal-Mart in Kodiak, Alaska (population: 6,130). Pitbull took it in good humour and even paid for the prank’s organiser to come along, with the experience recorded in a hilarious article for The Boston Phoenix. Besides meeting local Wal-Mart employees, Pitbull was also gifted bear repellent by the branch manager.