Since he appeared on the music scene in 2009, with his Canadian boyish charm and flippy hair, Justin Bieber has had his share of hit singles and celebrity scandals. Over the summer, Bieber resurrected his career with the infectious Skrillex collab dance hit, “Where Are You Now?” On the heels of his first number 1 hit single “What Do You Mean?” and his new album, Purpose, being released on November 13, it seems like Bieber is on top of the world. Music-lovers everywhere are eagerly waiting on what is about to be a monumental comeback.
After a rough couple of years in the media spotlight, it’s nice to finally see Justin in such a positive place. His career revival has the entire music industry on the edge of their seats. His new sound and new image has won him new and unexpected fans. From a squeaky-clean tween heart-throb to a tattooed, serenading sex-symbol, Bieber has even the haters rooting for him.
He’s come a long way from the 13-year-old guitar-strumming YouTube star he was when Usher discovered him. After moving to Atlanta and signing with a record label, Justin was propelled to fame with the help of social media. His natural talent was apparent, but his good looks and catchy tunes are what gained him his enormous fan base.
At first, Justin’s entire image and sound were targeted towards young girls and pre-teens. And as any celebrity who finds major success at a young age, Bieber was bound to grow up and outgrow his fan base. After a high profile relationship and breakup with Selena Gomez, a series of scandals involving vandalism and spitting on fans, and even a DUI arrest, it seemed like Bieber was about to go off the deep-end. Perhaps his career’s near-death experience was just the jolt it needed to get back on track.
In 2013, he came out with his third album, Journals, consisting of 15 songs that were released individually as singles. Just when we thought we’d seen the last of him, Justin regrouped and brought back a side of him that no one had seen. The project was a sales flop, to put it gently, but it introduced Justin’s new and matured sound and served as a solid career transition. From bubblegum pop to soulful R&B melodies, he had finally found a sound that suited him.
Since then, Justin has taken a break from performing to focus on writing and recording. During the 2015 VMAs, Justin marked his triumphant return to the stage with his performance of “Where Are You Now?” after which he broke down on stage, completely overcome with emotion. This shows not only his music’s maturity, but the change in his own personality. It is clear he is trying to appear more humble and gracious to his fans.
But not all of his old fans are on board with his new persona. The hoards of screaming girls that once populated his sold-out arenas are starting to feel abandoned by Bieber. And in turn, Justin seems to be getting tired of their gimmicks. On October 29, he stormed off stage during a television performance in Norway. He became frustrated with fans who were interfering with his trying to wipe up a spill on stage. “Never mind. I’m done. I’m not doing the show,” he said as he walked off stage. While some fans rushed to defend him, others expressed their disappointment in the way Justin has been treating fans lately.
Olivia, who used to consider herself a hardcore “belieber,” describes the change.
“His fanbase is the most loyal, obsessed, and dedicated group of fangirls,” she says, adding that they sometimes “blindly excuse his behavior."
His career revival has created somewhat of a chasm between Justin and his old fans.
“It's clear that Justin has cleaned up his act, career and personality wise, but I think now Justin is frustrated.” Says Olivia, who attended his Believe world tour. “His music is taking a leap into new genres... I think he wants more of a more mature fan base instead of the teenage girls hanging around.”
Can we blame Bieber? His fans can be pretty annoying, and may even be what’s held him back from branching out in the past. As long as there are crowds of screaming girls following him around, no other established artist is going to take him seriously. Even The Beatles had the same struggle. The chaos of Beatlemania forced them to give up touring, when they realized that making music for themselves was more important than performing for thousands of crazed fans. Justin should be grateful for how far his fans have taken him, but his frustration is understandable, given the circumstances. At this critical moment in his career, he doesn’t want to let his teen heartthrob image taint his reputation as a serious musician.
While it may not satisfy his old fans, Justin’s new music reflects his dedication to creativity, and exploration with new sounds and visuals. In many ways, Purpose represents Bieber’s rebirth. It shows a break from his old self and the trajectory for his promising new image. It gives us the fun, dance jams like “Where Are Ü Now?” and “Sorry,” along with exciting collaborations, and triumphant anthems like “I’ll Show You.” It’s not just the catchy new tunes that will appeal to a wider range of fans, but his creative revival and self-reinvention that will win back the support of his fans, and draw in new ones.
The truth is that Justin is just as talented as he has always been. The difference is that now, his talent and creativity are finally being fulfilled in a way that is valuable for his career as an artist. For the first time, he is creating music for himself. By being true to himself and honoring his talent, his music will shine through the genre of pop and validate his place in the industry as a genuine artist.
Purpose has the potential to launch Justin’s career to new heights – this time for reasons that he can be truly proud of. The whole “purpose” of this album is to prove to everyone who doubted him that he is back, and here to stay.