If you're a long-term Belieber like me, you can admit that loving Justin Bieber is downright challenging sometimes. I first came down with a case of Bieber fever back in 2011, when the Biebs was still an adorable child prodigy, charming us all with a smile and a flip of his perfectly-coiffed hair. My college roommate convinced me to go with her to see his documentary movie called Never Say Never (in 3D, no less). Admittedly, I knew very little about him, but I'm a nice person, so I paid the $17 (yep, that's New York City for ya) for a ticket and joined her.
Well, that was the exact moment Bieber fever set in. I had all the symptoms: racing heart, sweaty palms, slight vertigo... and a new arsenal of Bieber songs in my music library. I was hooked by his humble beginnings, tremendous amount of talent and potential, and adorably catchy music. He had serious raw talent, and he was just such a cutie. I had come down with Bieber fever, and there was no cure.
At least I thought there was no cure... until he started to grow up a bit, and started doing some very questionable things.
But still, I tried to defend him. I tried to explain that he's extremely young, and also worth millions — if I had been a multimillionaire in my teens, I'd probably have done some pretty dumb stuff too. After all, he's surrounded by enablers. The odds are kind of stacked against him, in any event.
Plus, he's consistently made pretty great music, and it's hard to argue that his latest songs aren't great (don't think I don't see you jamming out to his new album. It's OK, I'm not judging), so all we can do is hope that he's truly maturing.
2015 was a roller coaster ride for the Biebs, filled with several serious lows and some redeeming highs. Here are the stages of being a Belieber in 2015.
Stage 1: Skepticism
In January, the Biebs posted an apology video to his Facebook page, and mentioned his issues of the past few years. He said, "I’m a person who genuinely cares. And although what’s happened in the past has happened, I just want to make the best impression on people and be kind and loving and gentle and soft." His fans were skeptical that he was ready for true change.
Stage 2: Speechlessness
He posed for Calvin Klein and... sorry, what were we talking about? Is it warm in here all of a sudden?
Stage 3: Happiness
Many were, naturally, also skeptical about how his Comedy Central Roast would turn out, and he was criticized for trying way too hard to get back in the public's good graces. But I had to give him props for doing it, and allowing himself to be the butt of many jokes. It was funny and he showed his human side, which is always a good thing.
Stage 4: Relief
For a change, Bieber apologized and seemed, dare I say, self aware? He told Seventeen magazine: "I looked back and I was disappointed in myself. You have to own up to the mistakes. You have to say, 'I'm sorry if I've let you down ... I always want to be honest and let people know that those mistakes aren't who I am. Who I am is someone who really cares about people." He also reportedly completed anger management courses, and seemed to be on the up and up. I was proud again.
Stage 5: Excitement
Bieber's first single in a year and a half, a collab with Skrillex and Diplo aptly titled "Where Are Ü Now" reminded us that the 21-year-old makes great music. If only he'd stick to more of what he's good at (music), and less of what he's really bad at (staying out of trouble), we'd have no reason not to love him.
Stage 6: UGH
Bieber posted a picture of himself naked on a boat, and all we could say is: Why, Justin, why? Was it not enough for us to see you in your Calvins? Bieber later apologized for offending the "littles" who follow him, but... sigh.
Stage 7: Mixed Feelings
The Biebs made a big return to the VMA stage to perform his new music, and he was overcome with emotion, I guess because people clapped for him and didn't boo him. Some fans (like me) felt it was a bizarre reaction or a possible publicity stunt, while others felt genuinely sympathetic towards him. He told Jimmy Fallon:
It was just so overwhelming for me, everything, just the performance ... Honestly, I just wasn't expecting them to support me in the way they did … Last time I was at an award show I was booed ... I've worked so hard on this album, I've worked so hard at becoming the man I want to become. Stepping into situations, you just can't help but feel judged, so I was just feeling judged and just wanting to win so badly and wanting to do what I love so badly that I just put everything on the line. What was just so special about the emotional moment at the end; it was just authentic, it was real.
Aw, Biebs! We still love you, boo.
Stage 8: Insert Eye Roll Here
He cancelled a few TV appearances within weeks of each other, and we started to lose patience again. Fallon revealed Bieber scrapped a sketch at the last minute, and he also skipped out on a planned appearance on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert. Two steps forward, three steps back.
Stage 9: Losing All Hope
He allegedly smoked weed and drank while on stage at a concert. Listen, Biebs. Whatever you do in your private time is your business, but you still have young fans, remember? Surely the younger fans at his concert in New Zealand were hoping for better from you.
Stage 10: Empathetic
Yeah, we've seen a lot of nearly naked JB these days, but no one deserves to have their privacy violated the way he did on vacation in Bora Bora this fall. It's just not cool. I felt genuinely bad for the Biebs for this incident.
Stage 11: Total Frustration
His Norwegian fans may have missed any on stage antics, because they didn't get to see much of anything. He walked off the stage at an Oslo concert after one song. He later blamed it on a "rough week" filled with "long days and no sleep." He also berated fans for "not clapping on beat" during another concert in Spain. I just... sigh.
Stage 12: WHY
Bieber denied it, but video surfaced of him potentially knocking over a chair and storming off at a restaurant near Cannes, France. He assured us he had just gotten some "bad news" and made light of the situation, but I just don't know.
Stage 13: Nope
Proving that he's not letting 2015 go without a few more controversies, Bieber made a pretty inappropriate joke about 14-year-old fans in the audience of a music hall in Toronto during an acoustic set in December. He asked the excited audience: "Who's 13 in here? Do we have any 13-year-olds? Do we have any 14-year-olds?" He then counted on his fingers to determine, out loud: "Four more years until you're 18." He quickly realized how uncomfortable the assertion was, and said, "Too much, Justin." Too much, indeed.
Clearly, the pop phenom has had an insane year. Here's hoping that 2016 brings an evolved, more Zen-like Bieber. His true fans will stick by him no matter what, but I'm hoping he doesn't test those limits any further than he already has. It may be rough being Justin Bieber, but sometimes, it's even rougher to be a Justin Bieber fan.
Images: Giphy (14)