Justin Bieber had one helluva 2013. It’s probably safe to assume he views it as the worst in his six year career, and quite possibly, his life.
One scandal after another, albeit of varying seriousnessnes and credibility, was met with growing disaffection by the media, the public — and judging by the atrocious $4.69 million (seven-day cume) box office for his latest film Believe — a not insignificant number of fans and parents.
Being that time of year, the 19-year-old has naturally found himself on more than a few Worst Of/ Biggest Bust lists.
But Bieber’s 2013 didn’t only consist of allegedly hotboxed vans, graffiti, and viral Brazilian videos.
The singer released his Journals album exclusively to iTunes on December 23. The 15-track package includes 10 singles released weekly on iTunes from early October to December in a series referred to as “Music Mondays.”
The set is seen as a departure from the pop fare the teen star’s career is built on, consisting mainly of R&B slow jams and collaborations that include R. Kelly on “PYD,” Diplo and Big Sean on “Memphis,” Lil Wayne on “Backpack,” and Chance The Rapper on “Confident.”
The digital only album also contains five previously unreleased songs and three videos, including the latest trailer for the just debuted Believe concert-movie.
Since Journals’ release, a mixed sales pattern has emerged with the album charting and selling strongly in some countries and poorly in others.
Within hours of its midnight drop, Journals soared to No. 1 on iTunes US and 49 charts. It concurrently held 73 Top Ten positions [including the No.1's].
At its peak, Bieber’s album knocked Beyoncé’s self-titled, surprise visual album from No.1 into second place on the iTunes US chart before it slipped to No. 2 within 48 hours.
On December 29, Billboard reported the Canadian’s collection was “selling well” on iTunes and could reach over 100,000.
However, the music trade also notes iTunes won’t be reporting sales figures for the album to Nielsen SoundScan so it won’t qualify for Billboard’s charts.
Journals reached No. 3 on iTunes Top Ten Best Selling Albums for the week ending Dec. 29, 2013. Beyoncé reigned at No.1, Frozen Various Artists (film soundtrack) at No.2, One Direction’s Midnight Memories held on at No.4, while Eminem’s The Marshall Mathers LP2 took the No.5 spot. For the rest of that past week’s rankings, visit Broadway World.
At press time today, Journals holds the No.12 spot on iTunes US after slipping nine places from No.3. Frozen Various Artists leaps to No. 1, Beyoncé is at No.2, Luke Bryan’s Crash My Party moves to No. 3, Katy Perry’s Prism holds steady at No.4, while One Republic’s Native rounds out the Top Five.
In the UK and Australia, the picture for Bieber’s latest output isn’t pretty. His album debuted at No. 46 in the UK, and in Australia it hit the ARIA album chart at No. 35 selling just 4,067 nationwide.
Journals is only available for a few more days as a whole package before it’s deleted from iTunes on January 2. From that date, songs can be purchased on a per track basis. As yet there is no word on when a physical CD will be released.
Just as important as the album’s statistics, reviews also matter. The majority were positive, with many seeing the collection as a deliberate and welcome antithesis to 2012’s Believe’s chart-targeted assaults and a mature step in Bieber’s artistry, signifying more introspective R&B and R&B-infused pop to come on his new album slated for the fourth quarter of 2014.
Over at Billboard, the pop prince featured in multiple end-of-year lists ranking popularity, sales, and social media rankings, to name a few.
While Justin didn’t manage to unseat the mighty Beyoncé permanently on iTunes, he did dethrone Queen Bey from the No.1 spot on Billboard’s Social 50 chart for the first time in 18 weeks. It ranks the most popular artists across an array of social media platforms including YouTube, Vevo, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Soundcloud and even Wikipedia.
The criteria used to rank positions in the charts takes account of “Likes,” fans, followers, friends, page views, plays, and reactions, and was measured by metrics analysts Next Big Sound.
Bieber’s “Beauty And A Beat Ft. Nicki Minaj” landed at No. 25 (out of 50) on Billboard’s Year-End Most Popular Pop Songs. The list ranked the highest top 40 mainstream radio plays as measured by Nielsen BDS.
The teen star came 12th (out of 100) on Billboard’s Top Artists list, which is determined by an artist’s performance on the Hot 100, 200 album, and social 50 charts, ringtone sales, and Boxscore touring revenue.
In what was a record-breaking year for tours, Bieber’s Believe trek often fascinated more for its off-script incidents. But there’s no disputing its financial success and philanthropic effort. The singer donated $1 from each ticket sold on the second North American leg of his tour to Pencils of Promise, a non-profit organization that builds schools in developing countries. A portion of profits from Justin’s 2011 Someday perfume were also directed to PoP.
According to Pollstar — the concert tour industry-tracking publication — the Believe tour banked $169 million during its 15 months duration. It came fourth in a Top 20 list led by Bon Jovi ($259.5 million), Beyoncé in second place with ($188.6 million), Pink ($170.6 million) in third, and Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band in fifth ($145.4 million.) The full list can be viewed here.
Over at Billboard, Bieber came 13th in a Top 25 Tours of 2013 list tracked by Boxscore and reported from Nov. 14, 2012, to Nov. 12, 2013. Unlike Pollstar, Boxscore’s latest figures don’t include Bieber’s concerts from 2012 and only used reported revenue from venues. Pollstar includes estimated revenue from venues that don’t report figures.
Bieber’s work with PoP runs alongside his ongoing work with Child Hunger Ends Here, the Make-A-Wish Foundation, donations and visits to Las Vegas’ Whitney Elementary School. Various charities benefited from sales of his 2011 Christmas album “Under The Mistletoe.”
The singer capped his mammoth, 156-date Believe tour with a surprise relief effort visit to the Typhoon Haiyan-hit Philippines last month.
He raised a reported $3 million plus for the relief effort, which included $1,161,168 from his own #GiveBackPhilippines campaign.
Canadian donations to Bieber’s drive were matched by the Canadian government and some Action Against Hunger donors.
In 2013, Bieber was officially recognized as the biggest musician contributor by the Make A Wish Foundation, granting a record 200 wishes to very sick or terminally ill children.
Bieber met 8-year-old Annalysha Brown-Rafanan — the 200th ‘wish’ child — at his second leg North American Atlanta show back in August.
In December, the singer performed a surprise acoustic concert hosted by Vevo for a fan, Kate O’Neill, who was severely injured in a car crash and unable to attend his concerts in Australia.
More recognition came in 2013 as Bieber became the first artist in US chart history to achieve five No. 1 albums or EPs while still in his teens.
In May, the Recording Industry Association of America declared his 2010 signature hit “Baby” as the highest certified digital single in US music history, earning Diamond status after going 12-times Platinum.
The singer was given the Diamond Award months later in August during his Newark, NJ., Believe tour show by his longtime manager, Scooter Braun.
So that was 2013.
Some, like Bieber, will likely be more glad to see the back of it than others. But, there were plenty of gains as well as losses.
Among the gains: This year the singer reminded people he is an artist with his Journals set that augurs well for his creative future.
Among the losses: A near constant presence in negative press headlines and increasingly concerning entourage.
Going to be a great 2014
— Justin Bieber (@justinbieber) January 1, 2014
Bucking the current throw-in-the-towel consensus, it is to be hoped the boy from Stratford, Ontario returns re-inspired and wiser from his break in 2014.
As to the question of whether the receding year will become a footnote rather than the shape of things to continue. Only time, Bieber’s own choices, and a voluntary step off the pedal of momentum driving by the narrators of his fortunes, will tell.