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‘Justice’ for Justin: Pop superstar Justin Bieber hits San Diego on his ‘Justice World Tour’

Singer Justin Bieber wearing a backwards baseball hat, singing into a microphone
Singer Justin Bieber performs in Las Vegas in 2021.
(Gabe Ginsberg/Getty Images for RMG)

Pop superstar Justin Bieber’s twice-postponed “Justice World Tour” finally kicks off this week in San Diego.

Bieber has certainly come a long way since his discovery at age 13 on YouTube by record executive Scooter Braun.

Back then, the young teen was living in Canada with his mother, Pattie Mallette. The single mom worked multiple jobs to support herself and her young son, and the two lived in low-income housing. That all changed after Braun stumbled upon one of Bieber’s YouTube videos showcasing his singing talents. Braun famously connected Bieber with R&B superstar Usher, and between Braun and Usher managing the young singer’s career, the rest, as they say, is pop history.

Bieber came up during a time when the media treatment of celebrities wasn’t exactly kind. For reference, see the treatment of other young pop stars like Britney Spears and Miley Cyrus, who were heralded as major celebrities at a tender age and held to impossible standards, and then subjected to intense backlash when they inevitably faltered. Viewed through today’s lens, where mental health is at the forefront, the media’s treatment of these young celebrities was harsh and unwarranted.

From the start, Bieber was marketed as a teen heartthrob, a squeaky clean pop star in the mold of a young Justin Timberlake and other boy band members. His brand of pop was wholesome and bubbly, which earned him legions of young fans who dubbed themselves “Beliebers” and devoured everything and anything Bieber touched. Even his hair style spawned millions of copy cats, with young boys suddenly sporting his floppy, shaggy ‘do.

Simply put, the Bieber phenomenon of the mid-00s was instant. It catapulted him from the projects of Canada to the top of the music charts. But his sudden rise came with a downside, namely, exposure to the dark side of fame.

Justin Bieber and Hailey Baldwin arrive at the Los Angeles premiere of "Justin Bieber: Seasons," Monday, Jan. 27, 2020.
Justin Bieber and Hailey Baldwin arrive at the Los Angeles premiere of “Justin Bieber: Seasons,” Monday, Jan. 27, 2020. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)
(Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

Living under the microscope, Bieber was subjected to intense media scrutiny. It took its toll on him. By 2013, Bieber’s public image was faltering. Accusations of reckless driving and vandalism plagued him. In 2014, he was arrested for driving under the influence in Miami.

The public blowback was swift, with fans turning their backs on the pop star following his controversies and run-ins with the law. Bieber struggled behind the scenes with substance abuse, anxiety and depression. His bad-boy antics and relationship with fellow teen pop star Selena Gomez were making more headlines than his music.

It seemed that the age-old cautionary tale of child stars turning into troubled adults was coming true once again.

However, Bieber persisted despite the setbacks, drawing on his Christian faith to help him stay on track . As he matured, so did his sound. And as he grew up, so did his fans.

They embraced his 2015 album, “Purpose,” which showed off a new sleek, EDM-influenced sound. The album heralded a more mature return for Bieber, a comeback of sorts, and it sparked huge singles like “Where Are Ü Now,” “What Do You Mean” and “Love Yourself.” The album was a critical success as well, earning him Grammy nominations and his first win, for Best Dance/Electronic Recording for “Where Are Ü Now.”

Since then, Bieber has released two more albums: “Changes” in 2020 and “Justice” in 2021, both of which this tour is supporting. He also became a family man: In 2018, Bieber married on-again, off-again girlfriend, model Hailey Baldwin.

Despite his past struggles, Bieber has managed to remain relevant on the pop cultural landscape since his early discovery. Through all the ups and downs, the public interest in Bieber has never waned.

Perhaps it’s time to finally forgive Bieber for the sins of his past. After all, he was only a kid when he burst onto the public scene and, as we’ve seen time and time again, growing up in the spotlight is never easy.

“Justin Bieber: Justice World Tour with special guests Jaden, Eddie Benjamin and ¿Téo?”
When: 7 p.m. Friday
Where: Pechanga Arena, 3500 Sports Arena Blvd., Midway District
Tickets: Starting at $64.50
Online: pechangaarenasd.com


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