Canada Part Deux: Bieber’s Last Laugh

Two years ago, many Americans – at least those who cared – had placed the perpetually misbehaving pop singer Justin Bieber, who appeared to be as happy egging his neighbors’ homes as he was having hit records, at the top of their deportation wish lists.

That was before he went all transformer on us and converted himself from resident bad boy to the “reborn” Justin Bieber – a more mature and somewhat sympathetic character with the plaintive, yet catchy hit tunes that go hand-in-hand with his reinvented self-image.

Or, as doubters might say, at least that’s what those who are responsible for managing his reputation and brand would have you believe.

Justin Bieber
Justin Bieber

And now – deportation petitioners be damned – Biebs is having the last laugh with his third number one hit in as many tries here in America, as his latest single, “Love Yourself,” tops the Billboard Hot 100, for the chart dated February 13, 2016.

But get this: not only does he have the current #1 song in the U.S., he also has the most recent one, as “Love Yourself” topples his second #1 hit, “Sorry,” which just spent three weeks at the top.

The two tunes (“Love” and “Sorry”) also hold the top two positions on the Billboard chart for the second week in a row, making Bieber one of the few artists in history to simultaneously hold the top two spots, and one of even fewer to replace themselves at #1 – and the first since a fellow Canadian, The Weeknd, did it just last October.

All of this becomes even more impressive when you consider that Biebs had never even seen #1 here in the States – at least on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart – until his latest album’s first single, “What Do You Mean?,” debuted at the top just five months ago.

And it seemed that the follow-up single “Sorry” would be doomed to runner-up status when Bieber’s label released it in the same week that Adele surprised us with the juggernaut ballad “Hello.”  As a result of that bad timing, “Sorry” had the misfortune of debuting (and apparently peaking) at #2 back in November, right behind “Hello,” a song that had slashed all previous sales records upon its release and appeared it would have a stranglehold at the top well into the new year.

But a funny thing happened in January.

People grew tired of “Hello,” and waiting patiently in the wings at #2 after two months was Bieber’s apologetic ballad ready to pounce and take over.

And it did just that.

So now Biebs unapologetically has three #1 pop singles out of three consecutive tries from his appropriately titled album Purpose: “Mean,” “Sorry” and “Love Yourself” – and, along with them, the renewed image of a reformed bad boy who has put all those deportation-worthy antics behind him – at least for now.

Justin Bieber's #1 album, Purpose, has sold over 1 million copies.
Justin Bieber’s #1 album, Purpose, has sold over 1 million copies.

So, just to catch all the non-Beliebers up, the last half-year of headlines for the Canadian heartthrob now read as follows:

  • In August, he gives an impressive (and tearful) comeback performance at the MTV VMAs of his big summer hit with Skrillex and Diplo, “Where Are U Now” along with the then-new single “What Do You Mean?.”
  • In September, he gets his first-ever #1 hit in America when “What Do You Mean?” debuts at the top of the Billboard Hot 100.
  • Then, in a collaborative one-two punch with Adele, he prevents fellow countryman Drake from getting his first #1 single when both “Hello” and “Sorry” combine to hold “Hotline Bling” down to #3 in a week that otherwise was the Canadian rapper’s best chance at hitting the top.
  • Then, last November in a simultaneous release schedule that setup one of the most anticipated chart battles in recent memory, the Bieb beats pop’s biggest boy band, One Direction, when his Purpose outsold 1D’s album and debuted at #1.
  • Then in January, he k/o’s Adele – the world’s top-selling recording artist – by knocking her “Hello” out of #1 with “Sorry.”
  • And, as if all that wasn’t enough, he ties a record for most consecutive weeks spent in the top ten by a song that debuted there (“What Do You Mean?” spent its first 21 weeks in the top ten, a run that just ended this week).
  • Then he tops all of that by replacing himself at #1 with his ex-lover diss song “Love Yourself.”
  • Oh and next week, Zoolander 2 – a movie in which Bieber is making a key cameo appearance – is expected to open at #1 in the U.S. box office.
  • And finally, it’s on to the Grammys for a performance that’s sure to provide the exclamation point to what’s been a phenomenal six months for Bieber.

All image makeover artists should take note, because his is truly a textbook case of how an out-of-favor celebrity – with the right amount of promotional savvy and a bit of humility and maturity mixed in – can successfully reinvent himself and once again be on top of the pop world.

Much kudos goes to his marketing team.

And, as for all those non-Beliebers, I’d say that the Biebs is definitely having the last laugh…at the expense of fellow Canadians, boy bands, international divas, and most definitely on the record charts…

…right here in America.

DJRob

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