By Jack Houston
When his song “Boyfriend” appeared earlier this year, many Justin Bieber fans probably figured it was another Justin—Timberlake—behind the sexy smash hit. But, no, it was simply the latest evolutionary stride by the 18-year-old Biebs, quite possibly the biggest pop culture phenomenon in the world right now.
The Canadian-born singer ranks third on Forbes’ Most Powerful Celebrities list, and although his famous hair has settled into a more mature spiked do, he’s retained a spellbinding power over a certain demographic of females, a group that’s given rise to the debilitating affliction known as “Bieber Fever.”
Make no mistake, for his fans, known the world over as “Beliebers,” the Fever is a contagion with uncontrollable side effects. Witness the 2010 furor when Bieber posted a photo of himself alongside Kim Kardashian with the joking caption, “Look, it’s my girlfriend.” Beliebers descended upon the reality star. “I started to get death threats from 10-year-old girls, saying that I stole their man and they were gonna come find me,” Kardashian told Elle that August.
Then there’s the matter of Bieber’s actual girlfriend, actress Selena Gomez, who drew the ire of many a Belieber when photos first surfaced of the couple cavorting in the Caribbean. By now, most fans have come to accept Gomez just as they have the singer’s transition from teenybopper pop star to Timberlake 2.0.
“I’m a swaggy adult,” quoth the Biebs to Rolling Stone earlier this year. Who are we to disagree?