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How I Went From Hating Justin Bieber To Beliebing

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Photo: Steve Granitz/ WireImage/ Getty Images.
Bieber Fever (Noun)

Bee·Bur Fe·Ver /biːbəɹ/ \ˈfē-vər\

(1) A state of excited emotion or activity regarding the 22-year-old singer, songwriter, dancer, and producer, Justin Bieber.

(2) The unofficial title of an incurable epidemic striking a bevy of millennial women, many of whom were previously immune.

See Also: Belieber (noun)
Up until last year, I really did not give any fucks about Justin Bieber. I’m 23, so when his official first song, “One Time,” came out in late 2009, I was 17 and he was 15. He had a very twerp-ish thing going on — all overly swooped hair and a super girly high-pitched voice. That’s a time in life when most girls are not into guys that a) look younger than them, or b) are actually younger than them. Song after song, I was continually turned off by him for the next five years.

But then Bieber 2.0 happened.

This is the story of how one millennial became a Justin Bieber fan. It started with denial, then shame, then acceptance, and then finally, freedom: the freedom to beliebe.
The Denial

When I first heard "Where Are Ü Now" in February of 2015, it caught me off guard. What was this amazing new song that would surely become a mainstay on my summer soundtrack?

No way in hell was this Bieber. Given, it was Bieber collaborating with Jack Ü, a collaborative group created by Diplo and Skillex, but still. Was I actually enjoying a Justin Bieber song?

After all, this was Bieber. This was Bieber. I said “Never” whenever I was asked to see his first movie. I judged him when he got a stupid bird tattoo right above his crotch. And I completely disregarded him as ever being someone I would like after the video of his deposition came out. Who the hell did he think he was? He was a teeny-bopper who used YouTube to get famous. And remember the “Boyfriend” music video? He looked like such a tool. No one took him seriously except tween girls.
This. Could. Not. Be. A. Justin. Bieber. Song.

The Shame

The next month, Bieber got the official roast treatment on Comedy Central. I secretly counted down the days till the special's premiere. I wasn't going to actually tell anyone I was excited to watch the special. I would just casually watch the entire thing in one sitting while I was in my living room in the dark, maybe even wearing headphones.

During his roast, he calmly, and confidently, handled being ripped apart by a myriad of celebrities. He ended the show with a closing speech, concluding with: "Someone close to me once said, 'It’s how you rise from the fall that truly defines who you are as a man.' I'm excited for that challenge. And I want to say thank you so much for taking this journey with me. I'm excited to see what’s next. Thank you God for your grace, and for never giving up on me.”

I wanted to roll my eyes at everything he was saying but I couldn't. He was even wearing a hideous suit that would have normally made me stop watching, but deep down, I was rooting for him. And just like that, I knew there was more to Bieber than his patchy facial hair, or animal mishaps.

He was quickly finding his Purpose, and me, mine.

The Acceptance

After that, Bieber was doing more and more things that impressed me. He was redeeming himself, because he knew everyone was watching. As Diplo put it in an interview with The New York Times, "He had never seen adult fans screaming for him before... adults kind of disregarded him." For the first time in his career, he had adult fans.

"Where R Ü Now" did indeed become the song of the summer. Then in August, he released "What Do You Mean," followed shortly after by his epic MTV Video Music Awards performance. You know, the one where he cried on stage? We'll never know why, exactly, he broke down in tears, but clearly the singer had changed. In one of his biggest appearances before this year of redemption, in September of 2014, he was nearly booed off the stage at Fashion Rocks after he performed an impromptu strip down to show off his Calvins. Now, less than a year later, he was being cheered on and supported by a deafeningly loud crowd. Talk about a 180.

And then, to complete his hat trick of chart topping singles, in October, Bieber gave us the gift of "Sorry."

Suddenly everyone was feeling the Bieber fever. My 20-something guy friends unashamedly took over the AUX cords at parties to blast Bieber, a musical choice I never thought I would see them make. My girlfriends and I acting like crazed schoolgirls whenever Bieber made another TV appearance.

The Bieber meter just kept rising: Michelle Obama appeared in a viral Vine video featuring the song, he charmed everyone with his carpool karaoke appearance, and then made us all swoon over his magazine cover shoots.

By December, Billboard announced the unthinkable. Bieber had surpassed The Beatles' record, previously held for 50 years, of the most songs in the Hot 100 List. He had an insane 17 songs on the list at one time.

Wait, was Bieber better than The Beatles at something music-related? Did you ever think you would see the day? Did you?! You can't deny those numbers. Like I said, Bieber 2.0. And before you start criticizing his vocals, just remember, the kid can sing.

The Freedom

Bieber and I ended 2015 on a high note. I had successfully memorized every song on Purpose, and purchased tickets to his the album's tour, kicking off this month.

He is the ultimate comeback kid right now. Not to say that there won't be another pit after this mega peak, but for now, he's someone to pay attention to. Someone to jam out to. Someone to really beliebe in.

As of February 2016, 67% of teens say they are newly converted Beliebers, according to data from the popular polling app Wishbone, with over 3.1 million monthly users. Their polling results also revealed that 56% of their users are Team Bieber over Team Beyonce. Biebs over The Beatles AND Beyonce? That's right. He really is quite the performer.

I now let myself indulge in all things Bieber I had previously shunned. I watched Never Say Never. I followed him on every social media. I write about him for work all the time (okay, so that's not always my choice, or why I work here, but damn, do I enjoy doing it.)

Like a tattooed, platinum blonde, Calvin Klein-wearing phoenix, young Bieber rose from the ashes, a reborn man.

Or as my friend and Bieber addict, Margo Boland, puts it, "He's not just an artist, Morgan, he's a fucking movement."

So, do you beliebe?

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