The Path To ‘Purpose’: The Complete History Of Justin Bieber Being The Worst … And Then Winning Us Over

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Justin Bieber has gotten headlines more consistently than almost any other celebrity in the past couple years. Given that he just dropped Purpose on Fridayhis first album since 2013’s mildly received Journals, it’s safe to say that his music hasn’t been the reason why.

On the contrary, the Canadian singer, who was tapped by Scooter Braun and Usher when he was only 13, hasn’t been able to avoid the spotlight due to a growing list of legal woes and very public meltdowns. After seeing his popularity take a quick turn for the worse, this year Bieber started making attempts to rebrand his image through a series of public apologies.

Is it fair to say that Purpose will be a make-or-break moment for his career? Probably. It looks to be a true test of whether his once unquestionably loyal fanbase stuck around for the crazy ride he put them through. For the rest of us, it’s a test of whether his new music – which has been positively received so far – is good enough to drive the conversation around Bieber instead of his past antics.

In case you weren’t sure why you feel the way you do about Justin Bieber, here’s a timeline of his downfall and subsequent rebranding.

Back when Bieber was in Germany at the height of his popularity for his European Tour in March 2013, he thought it would be cool to buy a monkey. But it never crossed his mind that he might need to make sure he could take his pet capuchin monkey, named “OG Mally Bieber,” out of the country. So, when German officials told him he couldn’t, he left OG behind. Just take a second and think about the look on that monkey’s face as Bieber and his entourage walked away. It’s okay to cry.

To be fair, the officials gave Bieber some time to get things in order so he could get his monkey back. But they never heard a word back from the pop star. He’d officially abandoned his pet monkey in another country. The good news is, German officials transferred OG Mally to a zoo where he could happily live out the rest of his days. He also no longer acknowledges his former last name. [Note: He never could anyway. He’s a monkey.]

A generous person could write off the monkey incident as the mistake of an irresponsible kid with too much money to spend. But don’t you worry. Bieber made sure to show us time and time again that he was the latest Hollywood “bad boy” to own the tabloids.

Later in 2013, report after report of Bieber doing something new and outrageous came out. One of the most shocking came in July, when video footage was released of him peeing in a bucket in a NYC restaurant and proudly saying “F**k Bill Clinton!” as he sprayed his picture with some cleaning solution he found [Note: Hopefully not next to the bucket.].

The in-video commentary, full of “swag” references and explaining why witnessing Bieber peeing is a cool story to tell your friends, made a bad situation even worse.

The rest of 2013 included incidents here and there, such as Bieber spray-painting “FREE BREEZY” on a wall in Colombia one week, then getting caught tagging the wall of an abandoned hotel in Brazil the next. But those didn’t stir up too much buzz once people realized he wasn’t going to do any jail time.

Now, 2014 is when sh*t really started to hit the fan. Or, in Bieber’s case, when eggs started to hit the neighbor’s house.

In January, his Calabasas neighbor called local police because Bieber and some of his associates were allegedly throwing eggs at his house and caused what was reported to be tens of thousands of dollars in damage. Bieber wound up having to pay almost $81,000 for the damage, as well as serve two years’ probation and 12 weeks in anger management.

He then had a feud with another neighbor – retired NFL player Keyshawn Johnson, who’s much larger than Bieber — which would explain why he allegedly ran inside when Keyshawn chased his Ferrari down in a Prius after Bieber sped past him one day.

Bieber eventually moved to Beverly Hills and all was fine in Calabasas again. But the same couldn’t be said for everywhere else he went.

Many remember the time he crashed an ATV into a paparazzi-filled minivan (and then fought with someone inside that van), but that wasn’t anything compared to when he got arrested for drag racing in a rented Lamborghini in Miami, Florida, while under the influence. That got him that famously awkward mugshot you can see above, and led to more than 270,000 people signing a petition to get Bieber deported from the United States.

Oh, and let’s not forget when that old video came out of him throwing around the n-word as a kid like he was a little Riley Cooper. But, at least that last offense got us an apology.

The point is, Justin Bieber’s had some rough years; but 2014 was especially rough. Which is why 2015 was devoted to solely to making music and going on major damage control. If 2014 Bieber was Spider-Man 3’s Peter Parker with the bangs and attitude problems, 2015 Bieber was the Peter Parker from Spider-Man that wanted to be forgiven for every past mistake.

The start of his year-long apology tour came on Ellen, where he sat down with DeGeneres to apologize for how he’d acted over the past year. Apparently, he felt that wasn’t enough, so he also posted a YouTube video in which he made an even more sincere apology for being “arrogant or conceited,” and even hinted that he’d been pretending to be something he wasn’t.

It was all pretty shocking. But it was the first step at winning back the public, and it appeared to be working.

The next step came in the form of a bloody self-sacrifice. After the world had been making jokes at his expense for years, people finally got a chance to see Bieber hear what they really thought about him in his very own Comedy Central Roast. It was an attempt to show that he could be a good sport and handle criticism. This too was a success.

Then Bieber took his redemption tour on the road and never looked back. He showed us he could be funny by singing and dancing to his own songs in a car with James Corden, surprised his fans on national television with Ryan Seacrest and even ended his ongoing feud with Seth Rogen on ­– you guessed it – Ellen, during the show’s currently running “Justin Bieber” week. He’s given soul-baring interviews copping to his vulnerability as a human. He even handled that whole penis picture thing pretty well.

He pulled out a move that almost never fails – crying during a performance. It even worked for Chris Brown… for a moment.

At the 2015 VMAs, Bieber was performing his Skrillex and Diplo collaboration, “Where Are Ü Now,” followed by the lead single for his new album, “What Do You Mean?,” until he couldn’t help but let the tears roll. On The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon he explained how felt he’d come a long way from being booed and being everyone’s go-to bad guy.

“I just wasn’t expecting them to support me in the way that they did,” Bieber said. “Last time I was at an award show, I was booed. I think I’ve worked so hard on this album. I’ve worked so hard at just becoming the man I want to become. Stepping into situations, you just can’t help but feel judged. I was just feeling judged and wanting to win so badly and just wanting to do what I love so badly that I just put everything on the line.”

And if all that wasn’t enough, he had a trump card: the music he released in 2015 has been pretty damn good. “Where Are Ü Now” is one of the year’s most successful and best tracks, and his subsequent singles have all continued to show that Bieber has graduated from his tween pop past and is making mature R&B that appeals to a new, older, more sophisticated audience. He’s gaining respect as an artist.

While he’s still had some slip-ups here and there – like walking off in the middle of a performance or basically telling an entire audience they didn’t have a sense of rhythm – 2015 is definitely looking to be a better year for Justin — which isn’t all that hard given the mess he left behind in 2014. But there’s been some noticeable growth and Purpose is going to play an important part in showing the world what kind of man and entertainer Bieber wants to be in the future.

He could go back to being the kid that pees in buckets, or he could be the guy who surprises superfans with tickets to his concerts.