With his first album in three years, Purpose, on the horizon, Justin Bieber experiences a “rebirth” on the cover of Billboard. The 21-year-old pop sensation shows off his chiseled abs in the photo shoot and gets serious in the interview.
Over filet mignon and a glass of cabernet at Mastro’s Steakhouse in Beverly Hills, he opens up about his tumultuous time in the spotlight, his ex-girlfriend Selena Gomez, and the nude photos that were taken of him on vacation in Bora Bora.
He admits to being nervous as he embarks on a new chapter in his career. “It’s hard to make meaningful songs that make you want to dance because it can come off cheesy,” says Bieber. “In the past I’ve recorded songs that I didn’t like, that I wouldn’t listen to, that the label was telling me to record. I’m self-expressing with this album.”
Due Nov. 13, Purpose features Nas, Halsey, Travis Scott, Ariana Grande, Ed Sheeran, and Big Sean. A Kanye West-Rick Rubin collaboration didn’t make the cut nor did a DJ Mustard beat that went on to become Big Sean’s smash “I Don’t F**k With You.”
His experience growing up in the spotlight has made him sympathetic towards other young stars like Kylie Jenner. “I wouldn’t suggest being a child star,” he says. “It’s the toughest thing in the world.”
Read highlights from the interview below.
On his new outlook: “Enough with the Justin Bieber Show. I want to veer away from the self-centered attitude. I’m just focused on the people who have been there since the start, on people who are taking the journey now. I want them to feel like we’re doing this together.”
On his nude photo scandal: “I was scared. I first saw the one with the black bar over it. I was like, ‘Oh, my God. I just got out of the water. Shrinkage is real,” adding, “That’s as big as she gets.”
On Bette Midler’s comments about his father: “This Britt Meddler. I don’t even know who that is, honestly. I wanted to immediately say ‘Who is this lady?’, but then I’m just fueling this negativity. I do feel the photo was an invasion of my privacy. I felt super violated. My dad made light of it, but I don’t think that’s sick and twisted. It was funny. Dads are going to be dads.”
On teen stars like Kylie Jenner: “Look at her world: She has been living on TV since she was a kid. Every time she’s looking around she sees a camera, and that’s affecting how she’s thinking and how she’s perceiving people and why she has to do certain things … Situations that happen taint your mind, especially in this industry. Especially for girls.”
On ex Selena Gomez: “I’m proud of the woman she is today. When you love someone that much, even if something comes between you, it’s a love that never really dies.”