Justin Bieber is many things: apologetic, confused, hung. He is not, however, perfect.
The artist formerly known as that child star your niece is really into has been having a renaissance of late. Once a lowly pre-pubescent teenybop fantasy, the Canadian cotton swab has been raised on a healthy diet of Hood By Air, smart management, and doing less stupid shit. This three-part plan has seamlessly resurrected Bieber's career, as evidenced by Justin's literal resurrection at the 2015 VMAs, where the 21-year-old crooner performed, levitated, and then cried because he was so proud of himself.
Because of an astute tactical decision to set the bar really, really low—we’re talking about a household name who decided to hotbox his own private jet—Bieber has been picking up kind words, accolades, and cookies left and right for his recent string of high-profile successes. After graduating from the Selena Gomez School of teen heartbreak, Bieber is back on his musician flow, writing with all of the nuance, maturity, and wisdom of a 21-year-old who has been in an on-again, off-again relationship.
While Bieber isn't exactly covering new ground, he is setting his sad boy musings against a backdrop of some pretty expensive beats. I’m referring to “Where Are Ü Now,” a track so relevant, and so inexplicably good, that someone even thought to tell The New York Times about it. With this Diplo and Skrillex collaboration, Bieber officially debuted his new adult sound, which happens to sound a lot like Justin Bieber just dropped his voice an octave and gained a pirated copy of GarageBand Pro.
When not auditioning for the We Are Your Friends 2 soundtrack, Bieber quietly found the time to mix some other addictive tracks. “What Do You Mean?,” an ode to Justin Bieber’s inability to understand women, wins the Robin Thicke Award for catchy No. 1 Billboard single with undeniably rapey undertones. Meanwhile “Sorry” is the logical evolution of Bieber’s breakout “Boyfriend”—by flippantly apologizing for the millionth time for various personality deficiencies that he has no intention of addressing, Bieber is finally delivering an authentic faux-boyfriend experience to his devoted fans. Any teen singer-bot can promise the ladies love and devotion, but Bieber is the first to have cracked the code of what a woman really wants: a swaggering man-child who won't text you back because he’s been in the studio with Skrillex all day, but yeah he’s sorry or something, OK?
Because of the aforementioned low standards, Bieber quickly skyrocketed from teen train wreck to imaginary boyfriend status. With his platinum-dyed hair, vaguely sympathetic/much-improved public persona (hey, at least he stopped peeing in buckets?), and objectively good new album, Bieber’s comeback is basically Drake’s new body raised to the power of Missy Elliott’s new single. Not to mention, his acoustic rendition of “Sorry” on The Ellen DeGeneres Show led a nation’s worth of moms to finally learn how to use the pause and rewind remote buttons.
And while Bieber’s reinvention is barreling full speed ahead, it’s easy to forget that an i-D cover and three hit singles does not a mature, independent artist make. Before we start calling him a new man, let’s remember that Justin Bieber’s DUI hasn’t even celebrated its two-year birthday yet.
Unsurprisingly, the star has been up to some of his old tricks.
In advance of his Tuesday morning Today show appearance, Bieber allegedly requested a dressing room as far away as possible from fellow guest Charlie Sheen. Sheen appeared on the show in order to publicly announce his HIV diagnosis, though we can’t say whether Bieber’s distaste stemmed from some sort of problematic, pseudo-medical concern or a pre-existing beef.
Shockingly enough, this isn’t Bieber’s first bout of unprofessionalism. Back in October, Bieber “stormed off stage at a television taping for a Norwegian talk show after losing his patience with overeager fans in the front row.” (Once again, shout-out to The New York Times' tireless Justin Bieber coverage.) Apparently, Bieber quickly turned petulant when his fans proved TOO adoring; after futile cries of “Stop it! Come on, I said stop it!,” he put his foot down, exclaiming, “Never mind, I’m done—I’m not doing the show.” In an Instagram apology, Bieber displayed his newfound penchant for sort of saying sorry, explaining, “I don’t always handle things the right way but I’m human and I’m working on getting better at responding not reacting.”
Bieber also committed quite the faux pas in the wake of his nude photo scandal. When Bette Midler tweeted a condemnation of Jeremy Bieber’s boastful, creepy tweet about his own son’s little Biebs, Justin wasn’t about that negativity. In fact, he was so disdainful that he didn’t even bother to learn the legend’s name, referring to her as “Britt Meddler” in a Billboard interview. Naturally, a Britt Meddler tribute Twitter account quickly ensued but, as of yet, no apology from the diminutive shade-thrower.
Speaking of people you don’t want to piss off, Bieber got on UFC champion Ronda Rousey’s bad side a few months ago when he refused to take a picture with her little sister. Rousey has magnanimously offered an olive branch, saying that, “He could make it up to my little sister... If she could forgive him, then I definitely would.” But wouldn’t it be so much more fun to watch Justin Bieber get his ass kicked by a girl?
And while fans might be able to forgive Bieber everything, that doesn’t mean he’s cutting them any slack.
Apparently, Bieber is offering two VIP ticket packages on his upcoming tour; unfortunately, they’re wildly unaffordable. With the Ultimate #Purpose experience, Beliebers can snap a selfie with their favorite artist, stand closest to the stage, and get a behind-the-scenes backstage tour. That once-in-a-lifetime #experience will cost you $2,000 per person. For the lesser honor of a group pic, fans can shell out $925—but don’t worry, that price includes a digital download of Purpose! Naturally, these price points launched a thousand tweets, under the hashtag #justiceforbrokebeliebers. Next time, Biebs, consider refraining from alienating your fan base. Bette Midler is one thing, but Beliebers are a prerequisite to any sort of sustained Justin Bieber comeback.