Justin Bieber's recent odd behaviour could be part of a calculated attempt to shed his tween fan base. Is he cracking up or is it all part of a master plan?
Ahead of Dubai show we ask: is Bieber bonkers like a fox?
Justin Bieber is in a bind. On one hand he is the pop-world prince, dominating albums and singles' charts - not to mention Twitter, Instagram and other social media. Fuelling the Bieberdom, however, is an early-teen fan-base governed more by raging hormones than musical tastes. While such dedication is handy in moving albums and merchandise, screaming kids can undermine Bieber's efforts to move towards an adult musical direction.
So it's understandable if Bieber is attempting to cut loose by acting the frustrated and angry artist behaving oddly - but not too oddly. Bieber has an empire to protect. We analyse some of the ways Bieber seems to be trying to establish himself as a man of his own.
The Grammys fiasco
Bieber's behaviour surrounding this year's Grammys was Grade-A petulance. Not happy his edgier second album Believe was snubbed, Bieber attempted to host his own live stream of the event complete with commentary. When the idea fell through due to the technical difficulty of hosting more than 30 million fans online, Bieber picked a fight with Patrick Carney after The Black Keys drummer's dry comment on the red carpet: "The Grammys are for, like, music, not for making a lot of money. [Bieber] should be happy." Carney's comments burnt. Bieber summoned the Beliebers by Twitter, who went on an online rampage on Carney's account.
Verdict: An own goal. Bieber could have remained silent and adopted the underdog status; instead the Twitter attacks cemented the unwanted image of a teenaged demigod rather than artist.
Bieber live and unhinged
Normally, it is on the stage where you do the business. Ideally, the naysayers dragged to the concert would be won over by Bieber's performance and his undeniably great vocals. But it's hard to achieve with a show that has been so tightly choreographed and market-researched, not to mention has Bieber dangling from the rafters on wings, his vocals drowned out by 20,000 screaming children.
Until the ones who love him grow up, Bieber may feel compelled to announce his shift to adulthood in less obvious ways. Being two hours late to his recent London show (resulting in his first round of fan booing), was a sure-fire way to grab attention. The second London show was another epic night full of questionable behaviour, with reports of the singer collapsing backstage only to re-emerge and insist on completing the show. That same night Bieber was admitted to hospital, despite having enough energy to take a selfie of his abs, before finishing off the night by threatening a paparazzi waiting outside with physical violence.
Verdict: Much better. Angry parents, tired kids? Cracks in his image. The singer's outburst at the photographer also drew sympathy from fellow paparazzi-stalked celebrities.
Beliebing in Anne Frank
Arriving to the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam for a visit, Bieber scrawled on the guest book: "Truly inspiring to be able to come here. Anne was a great girl. Hopefully she would have been a belieber."
The media backlash was the final straw for some celebrities who came out in support of the singer. Will.i.am praised Bieber for going to a museum on his day off rather than partying it up. Meanwhile, Anne Frank's stepsister Eva Shloss couldn't see what the fuss was about. "He's a young man and she was a young girl," she said. "And she liked film stars and music."
Verdict: Ironically, the incident could open him to new fans. No one likes a bully and some felt the media overstepped it this time. The aftermath exposed Bieber as a vulnerable youth, something we could finally all relate to.
Even the no-nonsense Munich Airport staff would have surely broken into a startled grin when Bieber stepped on German soil with Mally the monkey in his arms. Poor Mally remains in an animal shelter and Bieber has until May 17 to produce ownership papers or the primate will call Deutschland her new home.
Last week, Swedish authorities reportedly discovered narcotics on Bieber's tour. Meanwhile, more high-profile celebrities are speaking out in favour of the troubled singer. Will Smith and his wife Jada Pinkett-Smith slammed the media and social networking sites for their overzealous reporting, with the latter labelling such behaviour as a form of cyberbullying.
Verdict: Every teen star needs support in order become an adult artist. With Bieber now receiving more support from the industry, perhaps he can make the leap to adulthood with fans and sanity intact.