Sorry on Purpose
Will Justin Bieber’s apologies be enough to lure listeners to his new album?
TORONTO — Three years after the platinum success of Believe, following a slew of controversies and a string of mea culpas, Canadian pop superstar Justin Bieber released his much-anticipated new album Friday.
But has he rehabilitated his damaged reputation enough for mass audiences to come around and for the new Purpose to be a success?
Or, as the 21-year-old sings in his new single, is it too late to say sorry now?
“He’s halfway there, but he can slip really quickly,” says Howard Bragman, a longtime Hollywood crisis expert and founder of Fifteen Minutes Public Relations in Los Angeles.
“I know Scooter (Braun) his manager and other people in his life have really had a lot of talks to him and really tried to get him to understand what’s going on and why he needs to change.
“I give them credit for having the tough discussions, and I give him credit for listening.”
Between his Comedy Central roast in May and subsequent pleas for forgiveness, Bieber’s been publicly atoning for his problems, of which there are many — including public urination caught on tape; pleading no contest after being accused of egging a neighbour’s house; and pleading guilty to misdemeanour careless driving and resisting arrest charges in Miami Beach.
Such issues have sullied the image of the pop star, who shot to fame as a fresh-faced 16-yearold YouTube star with an influential comb-over and Usher as an ally.
“He was increasingly a train wreck,” says music historian/radio personality Alan Cross.
“You have to understand that this kid has been in the public eye, he’s been in the bubble since he was in his early teens, and it’s very difficult. He has not lived a life like you or I, and there are mishaps along the way.”
As CTV eTalk co-host Ben Mulroney puts it, Bieber “had a one-way ticket to being the mayor of Doucheville.”
But, like Cross, Mulroney also notes the singer was under “a tremendous amount of pressure.”
Besides the pivotal roast, in which Bieber admitted he “turned a lot of people off over the past few years,” he’s also brought his contrition mission to several other platforms.
On The Ellen DeGeneres Show this year, he conceded he had “done some things that might not have been the greatest,” and he cried onstage at the MTV Video Music Awards in August.
“He says the right thing, and that’s the first part, is talking the talk,” says Bragman. “Now we’ll see if he can walk the walk.” There have been recent stumbles. Last month, Bieber walked out of a Spanish radio station interview because he didn’t like the line of questioning. He also stormed out of a concert in Norway because fans got in his way as he tried to wipe up liquid off the stage floor. His new singles, however, have hit the mark. The critically praised What Do You Mean? debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and Sorry debuted at No. 2.
The new tunes have taken Bieber in a more electronic dance music direction that appeals to a more mature audience.
“I’ve heard it in places I’ve never heard it before, specifically the radio,” says Mulroney, noting Bieber’s demographic isn’t one that often listens to music through traditional media.
While it may not be too late to say sorry, it’s too soon to say if Bieber has changed, says Cross.
“I think the next year to 18 months is going to tell us whether or not he has matured as a person and as an artist and is able to maintain his career without self-destructing.
“This is only the prologue of the next book in the series.”
After a string of public scandals and trouble with the law, 21-year-old Canadian pop singer
Justin Bieber has made efforts to rehabilitate his spoiled-brat image.