2015: The renaissance of Justin Bieber

If 2014 was the year of Matthew McConaughey’s resurgence, then I officially declare 2015 as the year Justin Bieber turned his own image around.

It’s something most people have been thinking — but not voicing aloud — since the mid-November release of his new album, Purpose. His music has not only dominated radio waves since then, but at this current moment in time, three tracks from that record sit in the top five of the Billboard Hot 100.

But Bieber’s reputation and lackluster discography leading up to this new release created an awkward situation for music listeners. We’re trained to not like him. To dismiss his music. To disavow all things Bieber.

However, the simple truth is that these new tracks are good. They’re nothing inventive, nor is it anywhere near the best of 2015, but it blends perfectly well in today’s pop music scene.

Justin Bieber

And slowly but surely, Bieber fans are coming out of the woodwork. This idea is exemplified perfectly in this funny video that I stumbled across on Facebook, of a British man listening to Bieber’s early music with disgust, and declaring that he will “never ever, ever, ever like this guy.”

Seconds later, the song changes to “Sorry,” one of Bieber’s new tracks, and the British guy hilariously changes course, as much as he hates to admit it.

Chalk up the success of the new album to quality production, smart collaborations, or basically anything but the vocals, but the fact of the matter is that the end product is pleasurable to the ears.

And you have to give the kid some credit. For the last few years, he was Public Enemy #1. No one liked him. They wanted him banished from the music scene at best, deported to Canada at worst.

Also, don’t think this is easy for me to admit. Justin Bieber has been one of my more consistent punch lines since I started this blog six years ago. Charlie Sheen came and went, The Situation is ancient history, and Donald Trump wasn’t even worth insulting until about six months ago.

But Bieber has always been there. Searching his name on this blog reveals of tidal wave of hate. Six pages worth, in fact.

I never saw this coming. I thought Bieber was more likely to have an Amanda Bynes-like mental breakdown than become a fan favorite ever again. So I must give credit where credit is due.

Many people will still choose to remain in denial about Bieber. Many will maintain that they’ve yet to hear “Sorry,” “What Do You Mean?” or “Where Are U Now.”

But you’ve already made up your mind, you just don’t know it yet. And when we look back on 2015, for better or worse, we will remember this as the year that Justin Bieber somehow, someway, made us all ito semi-Beliebers.

I said it.

Forget next year’s election, America’s biggest decision is Justin Bieber vs. One Direction

The world almost made it a full week without a high-profile terrorist attack. So close. This time havoc struck western Africa, in a hotel in Mali last Friday morning, where Islamic militants took 170 hostages and killed 19 of them.

There’s really not much else you can say or do but to believe in the power and resilience of humanity. We may not be living in a fairy tale, but one has to remain hopeful that good will always prevail over evil, even in the darkest of times.

If you’re having trouble believing that yourself, then take strength in Antoine Leiris, who, despite losing his wife in the Bataclan attack, refuses to bear hatred for those who pulled the trigger that fateful night.

If a man who lost so much can see the bigger picture, then maybe we can too.

Remember, it’s our decisions we make that truly define us.

Justin BieberAnd this past weekend, a decision was upon the world that, one way or the other, really showed our true colors.

Justin Bieber vs. One Direction.

And the Beliebers won.

The solo artist and boy band have combined to warp an entire generation of young girls’ musical tastes. They’ve both cultivated a sweeping fan base, and in the last few days, their popularity was put to the test.

Justin Bieber’s fourth studio album, Purpose, came out on the same day as One Direction’s fifth, titled Made in the A.M, their first album since their quintet became a quartet following the departure of Zayn Malik. In the end, Bieber sold some 649,000 albums to One Direction’s 459,000.

The dual releases created the biggest quandary for teenage girls since the Hunger Games made them decide between Peeta and Gale.

(I still can’t believe Katniss chose Peeta.)

(I mean … I never read them.)

(I read them.)

I’ve been pretty hard on the Biebs on this blog. I won’t deny it. Mainly because I can’t deny it since a search of his name will reveal myriad angst-ridden posts about him dating back to 2010.

But I will go on record, right now, by saying that I am willing to wipe the slate clean on Justin Bieber. Henceforth, I will only judge him on his actions moving forward, starting with Sunday night’s closing performance at the American Music Awards.

If I took one thing away from it, it’s that I didn’t realize he’s actually a pretty good dancer. His voice has always been fine. It’s nothing show-stopping, but he’d probably get at least three out of four chairs to turn on a blind audition of The Voice. No way Pharrell would turn. No way.

(I don’t actually watch The Voice.)

(I’m watching it right now.)

But now it’s time to see if Bieber has learned anything from his past transgressions.

Hey, Ben Carson, once stabbed a dude — allegedly — and tried to hit his mom on the head with a hammer — again, allegedly — and the guy might be our next president. All can be forgiven.

Don’t let me down, Bieber. I want to like you. I really do.

Otherwise, I’m spending my entire fortune on One Direction’s next album to make sure you don’t win Round 2.

That’s smarter than starting a 401K, right?