Justin Bieber's bloody Complex magazine cover: Baby, I swear it's deja vu
It was inevitable that Justin Bieber would pull from the Justin Timberlake playbook as he walked the tightrope from tween star to legit mainstream pop star, but isn't it a little soon for the I'm-not-that-innocent-I'm-a-tough-guy-look-at-me-I'm-bloody photo shoots? The kid just turned 18 after all. He still can't even buy himself a Coors light.
Nonetheless, there he is on the cover of Complex magazine with a bruised and bloodied face. But if this feels like familiar territory, that's because the maturing-teen-idol-who-dips-into-violent-imagery-as-shock-value thing was pulled off way back in 2002 by Justin Timberlake on the cover of Homme Arena. Justin Bieber better pay homage before Timberlake sics Lil' Kim on him.
Excerpts of the Complex interview too feel like a repeat of the Justin/Britney saga as he bemoans the attention Bieber bemoans the pressures of hiding a budding romance between pop stars from the media.
“There’s no way to hide the relationship completely, because then it would be unfair to us. It’s like, ‘You take this car, and I’ll take this car, and then we’ll meet up at the spot. Then, you go in this door, I’ll go in this door. We’ll end up crossing ways. You get back in this car. We’ll cross over, do a James Bond. You go through the kitchen. I’ll go through the back area. Then we’ll meet in the dressing room and see each other.’ At that point, it’s not even a relationship. You’re just hiding from everyone. That’s unfair and unhealthy, man.”
And how about that music, Mr. Bieberlake? Justin says that he's got real tunes in him, but people just need to give his material a chance. Again, this echoes the Timberlake script as he tried to get people to take the white kid with the fro seriously after years spent doing the "Bye, Bye, Bye" routine for squealing pre-teens.
“There’s no point in doing this if I’m not going to be the best. I give up a personal life. I give up my friends and family to pursue what I love and to make my fans happy. Why would I give up so much to be just another singer? I feel like it’s my responsibility to be the greatest I can be. If I start making terrible music, I don’t expect people to like me. If I’m making great music and there’s no reason for people to dislike me, that’s when it’s going to make me upset. People just need to take a chance and listen. If they don’t want to take a chance, then I don’t know. That’s going to be the biggest problem, to make them feel like it’s cool for them to like my music.”
Like Justin Timberlake, Bieber is using hip-hop to legitimize his talent. Timberlake clung to beatboxing while the Biebs is all about spittin' his flow. His upcoming new single "Boyfriend," reportedly has him pulling double duty on rhyming and singing, a la Chris Brown.
So far Bieber has mastered many of Timberlake's best tricks. Whipped people into a frenzy over a hairstyle? Check. Dating a fellow teen idol? Check. Hanging out with lots of black people and landing an honorary "hood pass"? Check. Working with Timbaland on his sophomore album? Check.
Now all that's left for Biebs is for him to do an album of Michael Jackson's leftovers. Or perhaps it'd be more fitting to do an album of leftover Timberlake material?
If Ciara was able to get her hands on one with "Love, Sex and Magic," there should still be a few clanging around in Timbaland and Pharrell's cabinets for him to snatch.