Last week, Justin Bieber appeared on the VMAs, and broke down in tears after performing a mix of “Where Are U Now” and “What Do You Mean.”
During the course of the time he was on stage, he showed off his well-known dance skills, before being raised into the air as an apparent attempt to be reborn and prove he was shedding his childish past.
The National Post has a great article about how Bieber has been actively working on his apology tour as part of his great redemption.
Bieber appeared on The Tonight Show later that same week and told Jimmy Fallon that the misty-eyed moment was a genuine reaction to receiving such a positive response from the audience (as he’d been booed off stage at a 2014 Fashion Rocks performance).
But apologies alone aren’t necessarily enough to gloss over all of the issues that Bieber has faced in his personal life in the last five years.
Those well-publicized incidents have ranged from DUIs to speeding tickets, from egging a neighbor’s house, to shirking community service duties and spitting on his fans.
Being self-effacing at his own Comedy Central Roast isn’t necessarily going to gloss over all of the allegations of poor behavior against the pop star and his entourage.
Child stars have long struggled to make the transition from cute moppet to adult performer without issue. In this modern era where every stumble, fender bender or trip to drug rehab is immediately documented by social media or the paparazzi, it is a challenge to keep any of this out of the press.
For some artists, the transition is somewhat smooth.
Justin Timberlake opted to leave NSYNC, create his solo album Justified and pursue a career in movies. He now has a thriving career that has only really been marred by the Super Bowl “wardrobe malfunction” with Janet Jackson in 2004.
Nick Jonas has also managed to shed his boyish image. The former teen star of the Jonas Brothers opted to skip the rebellion in real life, and join the rebellion on stage as Marius in a West End production of Les Miserables.
He took small television appearances, and film roles, while trying to start his solo career. His self-titled album features more adult-themed songs like “Chains” and “Jealous” that have hit the charts.
Mark Wahlberg started out as the frontman for Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch, and faced some serious legal charges of assault and a host of other run-ins with the law.
But after his rap career, he was best known for modeling in his underwear for Calvin Klein. He managed to rehab his image and took a few serious roles to prove his acting chops.
He now stars in blockbusters like Transformers: Age of Extinction, and executive produces shows like Entourage, Ballers and How to Make It in America for HBO.
For every strong example of a teen pop star who made good, there are some who never fully rehabbed their image. Britney Spears may have a show in Las Vegas, but her new music hasn’t been a hit, and there are always rumors swirling about her lip-syncing.
Lindsay Lohan has tried multiple times to rehab her image, after stints in rehab and unprofessional behavior, but at 29 she still hasn’t succeeded.
And then there’s Miley Cyrus, who showed the world she was an adult at the same VMAs where Bieber broke down, but she’s taken quite the different path.
She’s shed her Hannah Montana image by seemingly embracing outrageous behavior, provocative videos and photo shoots and celebrity feuds with the likes of Nick Minaj.
So while 21-year-old Bieber is making steps to prove he’s put his troubled teen past behind him, only time tell if he can keep up this “good” image, or if he’ll slip back into his bratty antics after his next record drops.
For story ideas, look at the National Post’s article on all of the steps Bieber has been taking to make amends for his past behavior, and see if his apologies seem sincere, or what path he’ll take. How are his tickets and those of other reformed pop punks selling in your market?