It’s been a long time since Justin Bieber was a mop-haired little kid making low-res YouTube videos from his couch. It even feels like it’s been a long time since he was the self-destructive teen star racking up arrests for reckless driving, drug use, and vandalism. It’s always been easy to dismiss Bieber for either of these phases, but in the last year something weird happened…
Purpose Is Actually A Really Good Album
The album Purpose dropped at the end of 2015, his first after a long three year absence, and with it came a brand new Bieb. He’s grown up, clean-cut, modeling for Calvin Klein, and palling around with Ellen. And, oh yeah, we’re all finally starting to admit that the music’s good.
It’s not an easy thing to admit. Unlike his earlier, lighter efforts, Purpose features sharp production, killer beats, serious collaborations, and some mature emotional punch. But even with positive reviews coming in everywhere from Entertainment Weekly to Billboard, a study reported by Teen Vogue indicates that over 20% of fans simply can’t admit that they really do listen. That probably means you.
I get it. I’ve spent years rolling my eyes at words like “Belieber,” and turning my nose up at the sugary sweetness of the former teen’s tunes. Accepting this is a process, and I suggest following Emma Mills’s 7 Stages of Accepting That You’re a “Belieber” Now to get through it. We’ll make it through together.
Some additional perspective also helps. And of course, Bieber isn’t the only former child star to make the transition into a mature, sophisticated artist.
From Teen Star To Superstar
It’s almost surreal to think that Bieber was only 13 when he first started covering popular R&B songs on YouTube, but the mop top and baby body he sported in those old recordings speak for themselves. Don’t forget, though: another one of music’s most popular and critically acclaimed stars got his start even younger.
If you don’t recognize him there, I don’t blame you. Justin Timberlake wouldn’t pick up his signature blonde curls for another year or two. He was only 12 years old when he started performing on the Mickey Mouse Club and only 14 when he joined NSYNC, if you can believe it. JB actually acknowledges JT as a model for his move from teen idol to adult artist.
An even better example of the kind of transformation Bieber is going through than Justin Timberlake is Usher, the very man who brought Bieber into the industry and continues to mentor him. Signed to LaFace records at 13, Usher has spent the last two decades recreating his style again and again as both he and the music industry grow around each other.
It’s not just a boy’s game, either. We all know that Timberlake’s co-stars on the Mickey Mouse Club were Christina Aguilera and Britney Spears, but maybe no singer has transitioned better to her stardom than Taylor Swift, whose rare ability to accept and grow from the mistakes of her past has helped her become one of the most consistently popular pop stars in the world. That’s a skill Bieber seems to be learning, and it could be the key to his continued success.
At some point we all agreed that Timberlake, Usher, and Swift had transcended their teen idol roots. With a reformed image, a mature outlook, and a killer album, it’s time we do the same for Bieber.
Confessions Of The Unlikeliest Beliebers
The release of Purpose at the end of 2015 positioned 2016 to be the year of Bieber, as long as it actually succeeded in restoring his image and changing minds. With many of his toughest critics, like High Snobiety writer and self-proclaimed music snob Nico Amarca, ready to dismiss him for any signs of his past immaturity, that wasn’t going to be easy.
Just like Amarca, though, many of the biggest Bieber haters are coming around on his apparent maturity as an artist and a person. Almost half a year now since the album’s release, two singles continue to linger on in the Billboard Top 20, and little of his bad-boy image lingers in the public consciousness.
Along the way, Bieber has picked up some unlikely allies. As fellow former teen idol Taylor Swift knows all too well, Kanye West isn’t one to mince words. That’s why it was such a surprise when the opinionated rapper actually named Bieber’s “What Do You Mean?” as his favorite song of 2015.
From Jennifer Aniston to Metallica, the list goes on, but maybe my favorite celebrity Bieber endorsement was Johnny Depp’s. In an interview with David Letterman, not only did Depp out himself as a huge Belieber, but he also went out of his way to call Bieber a “very sweet kid.” It’s not every day you get the Jack Sparrow seal of approval.
2016: The Year Everyone Became A Belieber
It hasn’t just been a long road for Justin Bieber. It’s been a long road for the fans who have been around since the beginning, proudly taking their lumps from the haters for years now. Many of these fans are themselves adults now, and as this Refinery29 exposé demonstrates, they’re rightfully enjoying the moment.
And if this vindication results in a few superfans looking smug and saying, “I told you so” (like Allie Haywood did in her open letter to new fans over at Odyssey), just remember: It’s been a long time coming. They can have this one. There’s enough Bieber to go around.
And, finally, if you want to kick your newfound fandom up to the next level, here are a few sites that might help you complete the transition to becoming a True Belieber:
- Justin Bieber Music: The Official Site Of Justin Bieber
- Justin Bieber on E!: E! Online’s Justin Bieber News
- Believe Justin Bieber: A Fansite For News, Giveaways, And Events
- Bieber News: The Fastest, Largest, And Longest Running Justin Bieber Fansite
Want to follow all the websites you get Justin Bieber news from in one place? Add them as custom sources in your room. See how this might look by exploring the Taylor Swift room we already created!