A true be­lie- ber

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - Front Page -

HOW do you anger Justin Bieber? Ask him about his lyrics. Or, more specif­i­cally, who they’re about. Back­ground: We’re talk­ing to Justin Bieber about his sec­ond stu­dio al­bum, Be­lieve.

Security is tight. If any­one is go­ing to leak the record it’ll be the teenager him­self, who is in the midst of drip- feed­ing songs to fans via Twit­ter.

‘‘ My fans have been wait­ing for a long time,’’ he says.

‘‘ And I’ve been wait­ing for a long time for them to hear it. The an­tic­i­pa­tion is def­i­nitely killing me.’’ Don’t worry, he’ll live. On one track, As Long As You Love Me, Bieber uses the phrase ‘‘ I’ll be your Hova’’ to his mys­tery lady’s ‘‘ Destiny’s Child’’. It is clearly a Jay- Z ref­er­ence. ‘‘ Uh- huh,’’ Bieber grunts in af­fir­ma­tion. Hova is rap­per Jay- Z’s nick­name, kids. He’s mar­ried to Bey­once. Who was in Destiny’s Child.

And here’s where the Bieb steams up a lit­tle. The lyrics are in­cred­i­bly loved- up. When asked if this is a song for Se­lena ( re­fer­ring to Se­lena Gomez, the woman who’s been Bieber’s part­ner for the past few years), a frost im­me­di­ately comes down the phone line from Mex­ico.

‘‘ Why do you pre­sume that?’’ he shoots back.

I ten­ta­tively re­ply: ‘‘ Be­cause it’s a love song?’’ ‘‘ OK . . . [ deathly pause].’’ Af­ter an­other mor­bidly long pause he replies: ‘‘ It’s not not for her. I don’t know.’’ There you go. It’s not not for her. So tak­ing a dif­fer­ent tack, I ask Bieber to talk about the song, con­sid­er­ing, you know, he wrote it.

Does he get some­thing off his chest? Does it put his side of the story out there?

‘‘ When you hear it you’ll know what I was think­ing,’’ Bieber says. Check­mate, Bieb. ‘‘ It’s cool to be able to talk about things you can’t re­ally talk about in in­ter­views, just be­ing able to say how I felt.’’

There’s the me­dia- trained side of the Bieb com­ing out. He’s smart enough to know any soundbite he gives to a jour­nal­ist is go­ing to sell their prod­uct.

On to hap­pier sub­jects. Bieber has a swag of col­lab­o­ra­tions on Be­lieve.

There’s Cana­dian rap­per Drake. ‘‘ He is like a big brother,’’ Bieb says. He also worked with Kanye West. ‘‘ There’s stuff with Kanye; he’s not rap­ping, he’s just help­ing me pro­duce.’’

Nicki Mi­naj raps on Beauty and a Beat, where she rhymes ‘‘ Bieber’’ with ‘‘ ether’’ and re­port­edly men­tions Gomez.

‘‘ Uh- huh,’’ Bieber semi- clar­i­fies.

There are some things Bieber is more ver­bose about when dis­cussing Be­lieve.

He could have rushed it. How­ever, he did not.

‘‘ I wanted to make it right, not just put it out,’’ he says.

‘‘ I could have done that a while ago. I wanted to take time to make it the per­fect al­bum.’’

Luck­ily there was that Christ­mas al­bum, Un­der the Mistle­toe, last year to keep the brand kick­ing over in the quiet times.

Yes, there was pres­sure around fol­low­ing up his mam­moth de­but.

‘‘ Putting pres­sure on your­self is a good thing,’’ he says.

‘‘ It pushes you to be bet­ter. With this al­bum there is a lot of pres­sure, def­i­nitely, but it pushed me to be the best I could be.’’

One re­port claimed the pres­sure was so in­tense Bieber even con­tem­plated quit­ting. True or just a me­dia ex­ag­ger­a­tion? ‘‘ No, that’s true,’’ he says. ‘‘ There are al­ways times you get down, you don’t know if it’s all worth it.

‘‘ In the end I’m very blessed and I wouldn’t change it for the world.’’

What gets Justin Bieber down about his job?

‘‘ Be­ing away from friends and fam­ily, stuff like that.’’

Luck­ily Bieber’s got a men­tor who un­der­stands how to tran­si­tion from teen star to a long- term ca­reer: Usher.

He helped Bieber get his record deal and main­tains an ea­gle eye on his move­ments. He’s an ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer of Be­lieve.

When asked about Bieber in an ear­lier in­ter­view, Usher said: ‘‘ The ex­pan­sion he’s been able to show through this al­bum speaks to the growth of who he is as an artist and as an in­di­vid­ual’’.

‘‘ And it speaks to the ca­reer he’s go­ing to have which is full of longevity,’’ Usher said.

To this, Bieber replies: ‘‘ In ev­ery­thing I do I don’t plan for the mo­ment, I’m plan­ning for my fu­ture.’’

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