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New Sensation: SA’s Austin Mahone and teen pop superstardom

Photo: Pamela Littky, License: N/A

Pamela Littky

Austin Mahone, from the cover of 'The Secret'


Like the bulk of Austin Mahone’s Instagram account, this one’s a selfie. In a white tank top, hair coifed up real big, Mahone arranges his facial features in the manner of good-looking people well versed in taking pictures of themselves—lips lightly pursed, eyebrows up, posing without posing.

“Running on the beach will be the death of me,” the caption says. It’s enough to garner 7,000 comments and 332,000 little hearts of approval from Mahone’s massive teen following, an audience seemingly dependent on an IV drip of Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Known as the Mahomies, Austin’s crew numbers well into the millions.

Rising originally on Youtube, Mahone now holds some serious influence over the young wallets and fluttering stomachs of his adolescent audience. But as “Baby” did to Bieber, Mahone needs one smash single to boost him into the next level of superstardom. At 18 years old, Mahone’s got the career infrastructure in place to jump to the .01 percent of Big Pop. More importantly, it appears he’s got the workhorse ethic to follow through at a vital crossroads period for teen idols, when the decisions of legal adulthood can send them into dens of vice and crumbling anxiety. At 18, on the road for his second headlining tour, Mahone’s already light-years away from his first bout of videos, singing from his bedroom in the doldrums of San Antonio.

 

Austin was born to Carter and Michele Mahone in San Antonio on April 4, 1996. Carter, a bareback rider on the cusp of professional rodeo, killed himself when Austin was 16 months old. An only child, Austin moved to the sticks of La Vernia in the 6th grade when his mother remarried.

Teen life in the town of 1,034 was dull, a comprehensive boredom that Mahone used as creative motivation. “There wasn’t much going on there,” Mahone told the Current. “There’s no movie theater. I was bored, I’d post videos with my friends.” Uploaded in February 2011, “Is that a Potato or a Radish??” finds Mahone and buddy Alex Constacio looking unsure in their first video, but clearly charged by the recording camera.

The first six months or so consisted of Mahone finding his online groove, inventing the name “Mahomie” for his followers and doing acoustic Top 40 covers. For his first full music video in October 2011, Mahone did Justin Bieber’s puppy love holiday tune “Mistletoe.” In it, a brace-faced Mahone sings into the camera while hanging out in a typical metro SA cul-de-sac. The video caught fire, with over 3 million views within a couple months.

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