In just four years, Justin Bieber has gone from fielding innocuous questions about his haircut to denying that he’s in desperate need of rehab. Bieber’s grown up and into tabloid territory, with his recent troubles making some question whether he’s just the latest teen star gone wild.
In what could have been his worst week ever, the 19-year-old pop star struggled with his breathing and fainted backstage at a London show, was taken to a hospital and then was caught on camera clashing with a paparazzo. Days earlier, he was booed by his beloved fans when he showed up late to a concert.
Those incidents come after photos of Bieber appearing to smoke marijuana hit the Web, and some headlines have suggested that the ultra-popular star is going through a famous Britney Spears-style meltdown.
Here are reasons you should remain (or become) a Belieber, as the singer makes his first appearance Monday at the Colonial Life Arena:
Give him a break, he’s a teenager: Donnie Wahlberg, who was just 14 when New Kids on the Block debuted on the music scene in the late 1980s to wild fan craze, told The Associated Press he remembers the pressure and hard times that came with being a teen celebrity.
“Justin Bieber’s making mistakes that everyone makes and he’s probably trying things and exploring things that most kids his age explore, but the problem is he’s got 50 paparazzi chasing him around when he does it,” 43-year-old Wahlberg said. “When we are 19 and 20, we think we can take on the world and we do forget that there is a lot of life left to live in front of us, and hopefully he’ll get through these times and find his way into a long career and a healthy adulthood.”
He’s wildly successful: Since breaking out at 15 he’s seen five of his albums hit No. 1 on Billboard’s 200 albums chart and nearly 20 songs crack the Top 40. He’s had several world tours, launched a massively successful 3-D movie about his life and made deals that include his own dolls, nail polish and fragrances. He’s got a social media presence that includes 52 million likes on Facebook and 36 million Twitter followers.
He’s helping sometimes girlfriend Selena Gomez with her summer hit, “Come & Get It,” “This love will be the death of me, but I know I’ll die happily.”
He’s out of this world, someday: Bieber has paid $250,000 to take a flight on Virgin Galactic suborbital airplane.
In concert, he’s awesome: Here’s a snippet from a review of Bieber’s concert at the Wells Fargo Arena in Philadelphia last month: “Bieber displayed energy and focus in the big choreographed workouts including “Take You,” “Beauty and the Beat,” and “As Long as You Love Me.”
“He’s too slouchy to ever be a great dancer, but, boy, that kid can sing. It was his beatific balladeer side that shone most brightly during sparer songs such as “Be Alright,” “One Less Lonely Girl,” and a doo-woppy “Die in Your Arms.”
He ended many songs with extended a cappella glissandos, flourishes that drove the girls into hysterics.”
He does apologize: Last month, Bieber apologized by phone to Bill Clinton for cursing the former president and spraying his photo with cleaning fluid in a New York City restaurant kitchen earlier this year. And he tried to make amends after visiting the Anne Frank house in Amsterdam, in which he commented that the Jewish girl who hid from Nazi officials would have been a “Belieber.”
He gets a bad rap, sometimes: Onstage after being booed at the Billboard Awards: “I’m 19 years old. I think I’m doing a pretty good job. And basically, from my heart, I really just want to say it should really be about the music. It should be about the craft, the craft that I’m making. This is not a gimmick. I’m an artist and I should be taken seriously and all this other bull should not be spoken of. I want to thank my manager, Scooter Braun. I want to thank my family at home. I want to thank my mother, my father. I want to thank Jesus Christ.”
The teenager then removed his glasses and cracked a small smile. “Mom, I love you so much. Dad, I love you. Little brother and sister, I love you so much. Thank you guys so much. Fans, you’re incredible.”
Sources: The Associated Press, McClatchy-Tribune News Service, staff reports