Bieber’s latest three singles have done far more for his image than any amount of empty apologies ever could.
As a pop radio devotee, I can often find myself singing along to songs that I had no way of knowing I had memorized all the words to. And yet, for what I will deem the pupa stage of Justin Bieber’s potentially metamorphic butterfly of a career, my limited knowledge of his musical stylings included simply the four word phrase, “Baby, baby, baby, oooh.” The fact that the aforementioned line is made up of three of the same words is worthy of note.
However, as a pop culture connoisseur, I was well versed in his bad behavior. There was the celebrity rite of passage:the drunken driving charge and subsequent resist of arrest. There was the peeing in a mop bucket in a restaurant kitchen. On what he described to his Twitter followers as a “chill day”, Justin mused that if Anne Frank was still alive she, “hopefully would have been a Belieber.” He told a racist joke involving chainsaws that became a viral offense. His on and off again relationship with the perennial baby-faced Selena Gomez labeled him as repeat offender in matters of the heart. He abandoned his pet monkey in Germany. He upset his neighbor, former Jets’ wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson, with his reckless driving antics. And most recently, there was the “accidental” dick pic seen round’ the world.
Justin Bieber has made a career out of atonement. He was remorseful for shouting, “F$CK Bill Clinton!” after pissing in a mop bucket. He asked Beliebers for forgiveness for posting a photo of his bare butt on Instagram. Amidst a PR blitz to salvage his faltering rep, Justin ended a Comedy Central Roast in his honor with a blanket apology for all past indiscretions. In January, he regretfully acknowledged “pretending to be someone he was not to cover up for the way he was feeling inside.” Even as I type this, Justin is flipping a chair somewhere in Paris. I’m quite sure an act of contrition will be offered up within the next 24 hours. Bless his repentant heart.
It has been said that it takes a strong person to say sorry, and an ever stronger person to forgive. In this case, all has been forgiven with the release of Justin Bieber’s latest three singles“Where Are Ü Now”, “What Do You Mean?” and the conveniently titled “Sorry.” In what producer Diplo described somewhat thanklessly as “an art project where we utilized his voice”, “Where Are Ü Now” is great out of the gate and somehow manages to get even better as it builds. “What Do You Mean” is a tick-tock tropical house sequel to the aforementioned flute friendly Diplo/Skrillez/Jack Ü project. His most recent offering “Sorry”, the second single off the much anticipated November release of his fourth(!) studio album Purpose, also does not disappoint. The song, an admission of guilt to an anonymous lover, leaves the lyrical and compositional impression that Bieber’s been studying hard and taking notes.
Justin’s road to redemption was previously lined with empty promises and a lack of accountability. Now it seems, he, or more likely his PR team, are finally finding that the most sure fire way to say you’re sorry is not always with flowers but with songs. As Bob Dylan, Madonna, Kanye West, and all the other serial apologists that came before him found out, the American public is always willing to forgive you so long as you’re secure in the fact that your musical canon packs a punch. I find myself wondering, what if Justin Bieber is only now starting to beliebe in himself?
by Julia Cerbone
Julia Cerbone lives in Brooklyn. She can generally be found reading books at bookstores without purchasing them, engaging in conversations with unstable strangers, and commenting on paintings that she doesn’t really understand.