Music News & Reviews

Fresno fans don’t stop believing in Justin Bieber

Justin Bieber performs during his Purpose World Tour at Sleep Train Arena on Tuesday, March 15, 2016, in Sacramento.
Justin Bieber performs during his Purpose World Tour at Sleep Train Arena on Tuesday, March 15, 2016, in Sacramento.

Love him or not, Justin Bieber may well be the pop-music icon of a generation.

“JB is the frontrunner of this new generation, and he has the legions of beliebers to back him up,” says Kay Rich, music director for radio station B95.

“If you were to measure Justin’s popularity, it would rival the greats of the past like Michael Jackson, Elvis Presley and The Beatles during their respective runs.”

Rich should know. He’s been following the station’s search for the Valley’s biggest belieber. The contest winner gets tickets to see the Canadian pop singer during his concert on Saturday, March 26, at the Save Mart Center. The winner was vying for a meet-and-greet with Bieber, but the singer canceled all interaction with fans after a security scare earlier this week. Those affected by the cancellation will be contacted by the tour.

As soon as the contest was launched, the station’s website was overloaded with photos from fans such as Krystle Carpenter, who decorated her car windows for almost a full week with neon paint that read “I’m a belieber” and “Future Mrs. Bieber.”

“I had to rewrite it every day,” says Carpenter, a 28-year-old real estate agent.

Carpenter admits she doesn’t fit Bieber’s teen (or preteen) demographic. She doesn’t much care. Carpenter remembers first seeing the then baby-faced singer and thinking he “was the most adorable thing I’d seen in my entire life.” She became a hardcore fan about four years ago, but she says she really gained a new respect for the singer after the release of his latest album, “Purpose.”

“If my soul had a journal, that is what it would have written,” Carpenter says. She relates to its theme of love and loss and says the music helped her with a breakup of her own.

“That album helped me cry it out,” she says.

“Purpose” debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and caused music critics to ponder Bieber’s place as a serious musician. The headlines read, “Justin Bieber has found a new fan base” and “Wait, what? Grown men listen to Justin Bieber?”

The album came after a musical hiatus and a particularly rough year for Bieber, in which the singer became tabloid fodder. There were a series of runs-in with the law (including charges of vandalism and reckless driving).

None of that made Carpenter less of a fan.

The singer seems to have learned from those mistakes, she says. If anything, they made Bieber seem more human and accessible.

I thought he was the most adorable thing I’d seen in my life.

Krystle Carpenter, a Justin Bieber fan

Which is what really attracts Carpenter most about Bieber — chiseled good looks aside, obviously. The 22-year-old who was discovered in his early teens has a real, true affection for his fans, those beliebers who continue to support him as he matures.

“No matter what he was doing with a monkey,” she says, in joking reference to an incident Bieber had with his pet monkey, which was confiscated while he was on tour in Germany.

This is the second time Fresno fans have had the chance to see Bieber in concert.

When he played the arena in 2012 on his “Believer” tour, fans camped overnight at the Save Mart Center so they could get in line at 5 a.m. for the chance to get tickets. The show sold out within minutes, leaving parents doing their best to console crying kids. Scammers, sensing an opportunity, sold fake tickets on eBay, which led to more tears when the concert finally came around months later.

The whole thing had a feeling of hysteria. It was called Bieber fever for a reason.

At the time, no one could question the singer’s popularity.

But some did question his longevity and wondered whether he was just the star du jour – another Jordan Knight or Nick Carter – or if he could remain relevant for a sustained number of years.

The answer is yes, at least using YouTube as a metric. The singer who was famously discovered via YouTube at 13 now reigns as the owner of the website’s most popular channel. Bieber has more than 20 million subscribers to his channel and is about to reach 10 billion lifetime views, according to a story in the Guardian. His Vevo channel generated more than 722 million video views just last month.

You can’t underestimate Bieber’s social media savvy, says B95’s Rich.

“Justin Bieber is a pioneer,” he says. “As social media grows, so does JB’s music and, even more impressively, the pandemonium of his fans.”

Joshua Tehee: 559-441-6479, @joshuatehee

Justin Bieber

  • 7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 26
  • Save Mart Center
  • $50.50, $76 and $116
  • 800-745-3000,
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