Justin Bieber Is Probably Not Sorry, But I’m A Belieber Anyway

My younger sister has been a die-hard Belieber since his flop-haired, purple hoodie days. She’s a high-powered and successful attorney with a shitload of student loans and excellent financial acumen, but she also has an electronic toothbrush that sings “Baby” that she got as a gift and hasn’t taken out of its packaging. She’s evangelized Biebz, unabashedly accepting his work as part of her general Z100-and-Longchamp bag vibe, staunchly standing beside him as we made fun of her all these years.

And now, with the release of Purpose, Bieber’s first album release in his “Forgive Me For Being A Tool” redemption docudrama, I am proud to say that I’ve joined her ranks. I’m a Belieber. I’m here for this, whatever it is, and I feel great about it.

I don’t care if Justin Bieber is actually sorry. I’m sure he’s not. Something tells me that after he’s done praying and posting videos of his sweet kickflips to Instagram, he’s still not as sorry as he wants you to think. Part of the appeal of this redemption tour is subscribing completely to the fiction that Justin Bieber is genuine. We want him to be authentic, because above all, we want our celebrities and our idols to be real.

Perfection is inspiring, but after a few minutes, boring. Why watch someone succeed endlessly when you can watch them fall down and pick themselves back up? Watching Beyoncé nail every single stripper kick in a two-hour concert without looking like she wants to lay down with her shoes off is inspiring because the act itself is so airtight and flawless it’s ard to believe it’s actually real. Rihanna rolling a blunt on the head of her security guard is thrilling because we see that she truly doesn’t give a fuck.

Bieber wants us to believe that this tour of repentance is the real deal, but he’s falling short.

He’s not sorry for peeing in that mop bucket or acting like a dick at his deposition. He’s not sorry for being a snotty grown-up version of the little kid Scooter Braun found on YouTube. He’s a product of his environment, which took a small tween with talent, put him in an oven along with some leather pants and some knockoff Hood By Air, and produced a tray of iced blonde Shane from “The L World” realness, all cheekbones and eyes asking for your forgiveness. Don’t give it to him. He doesn’t deserve it.

If the album is predicated on the concept of redemption, and Bieber’s forgiveness tour is nothing more than a carefully-executed PR campaign (see: crying at the VMAs), then does that mean the album’s bad? Are all the sentiments hollow? Will this revelation impede your continued enjoyment of the gently rollicking “Sorry”?

Nah. Purpose is great. It made me Belieb. It’s a solid pop album, sprinkled with a few missteps — avoid “Children,” it’s a garbage song that even Michael Jackson at his most “Free Willy” wouldn’t have touched. What about the children, Justin? There are solid guest appearances, including a visit from Big Sean on a jam called “No Pressure,” just one of the songs that work really, really hard to drive home the fact that Bieber’s a nice guy now. “You ain’t gotta make your mind up right now, no pressure,” he sings. Gotcha. No pressure, girl. He’s one of the good ones now.

Divorce the manufactured and most certainly bullshit redemption narrative from the release of Purpose, and you’re left with some good new music that scratches the mid-2000s Justin Timberlake itch. Don’t accept Bieber’s apologies — they are probably not genuine — but enjoy the spectacle. It’s not a bad ride.