Justin Bieber, the Stratford, Ont.-born music superstar, is releasing his third album today. Believe is more than just a collection of frothy tunes — it’s part of his evolution from squeaky-voiced tween idol to adult pop artist.
Here’s a look at some of the milestones that have marked Bieber’s growing “maturity.”
1. He’s ditched the Bieber cut.
Gone is the shaggy coif that galvanized hair salons and confounded the parents of teenage sons. In its place is a sculpted up-do that defies gravity and comprehension. (No word yet on whether he’s capable of growing facial hair.)
2. His voice has broken.
Between the release of Bieber’s squeaky 2010 hit Baby and his breathy 2012 single Boyfriend, something big happened. No, not megastardom — puberty.
3. There’s a “clean” version of his last single.
Which of course means there’s a dirty version of Boyfriend, with words that are unprintable on CBCNews.ca. A teaser video released earlier this year featured a second-long shot of the song’s alternate lyric sheet, and whoa-ho-ho — the Biebs has discovered cusswords!
4. He’s developing grown-up tastes.
What’s most remarkable about the single Boyfriend is not the sexual innuendo, but the line where Justin promises his paramour a night of sitting “by the fire while we eatin’ fondue.” Nothing says adult sophistication like fondue. Just one word of advice, Justin: moderation. Those calories can add up!
5. He’s bought himself a house.
Nothing special. Just a 10,000-square-foot mansion with eight bathrooms in the Hollywood Hills. (Price tag: $10.8 million US.)
6. He wrote a song for his fans.
It’s called Believe. It’s just his way of saying, “Thank you for making it possible for me to buy a 10,000-square-foot mansion with eight bathrooms in the Hollywood Hills.”
7. He made it through his first paternity scandal.
It’s become a rite of passage for any rising male pop star: the paternity suit. Late last year, a young woman named Mariah Yeater claimed that she and the Biebs had conceived a child after a show in 2011. Bieber vehemently denied it, saying he’d never even met Ms. Yeater, who eventually withdrew legal action. The episode apparently inspired a bonus track on the new album called Maria, sort of a millennial update of Michael Jackson’s mistaken-baby-daddy classic Billie Jean.
8. He’s had his first paparazzi scandal.
A California photographer alleges that Bieber hit him after he took photographs of the singer and girlfriend Selena Gomez at a shopping centre near Bieber’s home. Regardless of how this case plays out, Bieber’s perceived toughness is unlikely to hurt his image.
9. He’s made a self-satirizing Saturday Night Live video.
Another rite of passage for the modern pop star is the self-deprecating parody video. In May, Saturday Night Live regulars Andy Samberg and Jorma Taccone celebrated the 100th episode of their much-loved Digital Shorts series by bringing Bieber on board for a hilariously raunchy song-and-dance routine.
10. He’s mentoring other musicians.
A famous philosopher once said that with great power comes great responsibility. (I think it was Spider-man's uncle.) In the pop realm, that means fostering new talent. Justin likes to say he’s “paying it forward” — you know, like that movie. One of Bieber’s protégés is fellow Canadian Carly Rae Jepsen, the girl behind the irritating international hit Call Me Maybe, and winner of three MuchMusic video awards this past weekend. Thanks, Justin. Thanks a lot.