Till almost three years ago, if there was a Justin I swore by, it was Timberlake – blame it on his Sexy back and Suit & tie. One knew little about the Canadian Justin (Trudeau) and baby-faced Bieber was never in the running. If your play list was dominated by Bieber, it was enough to raise an eyebrow over, and there was no scope for a second date with this Belieber.
There was a certain arrogance I enjoyed about not listening to his music, not watching the videos, and certainly not paying any importance to tabloid gossip about his girlfriends, tattoos, fashion statements and tantrums.
I am 28, and my phase of obsessing over a rising popstar happened with the Backstreet Boys and NSYNC, whose songs I listened to on my walkman, and whose posters dotted my room. I was in lust with them, I was in love with them. And when Bieber broke into the scene, my younger cousins and college juniors had his teen pop tracks on their iPods. I waited for them to grow out of that phase. After all, how could Baby, baby, baby Oh ever rise up to the emotional turmoil that I went through when the Backstreet Boys sang Quit playin’ games with my heart?
I, like most my age, detested Bieber’s drop-crotch jeans, his sharp hairstyle, and that vest. More than this, we couldn’t stand the fans, who aped every look, photographed it and hashtagged it in our faces.
And then in the autumn of 2015, Bieber asked me, What do you mean? In the middle of a dance floor, past-midnight, I had no answer.His music had transformed from that nauseating teeny-boppy stuff of my nightmares to this sassy dance number.
This happened again, when Bieber dropped Sorry a few months later. And then one more time last year with Let me love you. Sure, I muttered under breath. None of us could accept – due to out snooty demeanor and deep-rooted arrogance – that we quite liked Bieber. The Electronic Dance Music (EDM) zone mixed with R&B was a crowd puller on any dance floor, there was no denying it.
Interestingly, his videos acquainted us with some sick (millennial lingo for amazing) dance moves that involved a lot of leg work, specially the bent knees. No wonder the drop-crotch pants were such a hit.
He had grown up, and while he’s still a heartthrob for teenagers across the world, he now resonated with quarter-life and 30-something crisis. He was no longer just singing about puppy love and proposing to a classmate; he was singing about love lost and never found, about mucking up relationships and second chances. And who understood that better than the ’90s kids in 2015-16?
From sheer dislike towards him to rushing to dance every time a DJ drops a Bieber bomb, us ’90s kids have come a long way. Mind you, we will never buy JB merchandise or follow him diligently on Instagram and if you ask us sober, our thoughts on him, we will still raise a brow. But bring him to India and we will fly down to Mumbai to watch him perform. There is no ignoring bad boy Bieber, it seems.