Sorry on Pur­pose

Will Justin Bieber’s apolo­gies be enough to lure lis­ten­ers to his new al­bum?

Winnipeg Free Press - Section E - - ARTS & LIFE - By Vic­to­ria Ahearn

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.”

RICH FURY / THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

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.

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