Justin Bieber Covers ‘Hero’ Magazine, Beautifully

Justin Bieber. Prince of Pop. The title was given to Bieber five years ago, just one year in to his nascent superstardom. And, like the singer himself, it’s making a comeback.

In a preview of the UK’s Hero magazine’s upcoming cover story, titled “True Blue: Justin Bieber, Prince of Pop,” we’re told the Canadian opens up about feeling “nerves” ahead of dropping his new album, and his “new-found passion for writing as a release.”

The black and white cover seems to reflect this vulnerability and self-expression. Shot by Hedi Slimane — a photographer, fashion designer, and creative director for Saint Laurent Paris — the Biebs looks pensively off-camera. Going by his bleached hair, the shoot was filmed after his radical ‘do in December.

Bieber looks undeniably beautiful on Hero’s cover. If the rest of Slimane’s work is anything like the singer’s photos for Men’s Health, V magazine, Mario Testino and Vogue, Beliebers are in for a treat.

Amid teases, Hero writes, “Justin Bieber finds himself on the precipice of career-defining gear change, attempting to master the transition from kid-star into respected adult artist.”

They’re not wrong. The past two years have been dramatic and overly-documented. The singer spent the first three months of 2015 apologizing for missteps, while simultaneously trying to explain the difficulties of growing up in the spotlight.

Many media observers chose to ignore those apologies. Instead, many dismissed them as “calculated PR”. It appears to be beyond the ken of most to imagine that a youngster who made most of his mistakes between 19 and 20, and has since been on the receiving end of largely gleeful, public censure and often fabricated tabloid coverage, is more in need of mature insights than knee-jerk cynicism.

News of Bieber’s album nerves comes after Diplo’s recent interview with Billboard, during which he said the singer is “controlled” by his fans.

The music producer, DJ, and animation creator, collaborated with Jack U partner Skrillex and Bieber on their hit “Where Are U Now,” and the trio are set to work on Justin’s album this summer.

“We definitely want to return the favor for him, because it was a big deal he gave [Jack U] ‘Where Are U Now,’ Diplo told the music publication. “It’s one of the strongest records he had on his album, but he had no production for it.”

He added, “We transformed it into something different. It’s crazy because it’s the first radio record he’s had since ‘Baby’.” [Note: In fact, Bieber charted in 2012 with “As Long As You Love Me” and “Beauty and A Beat” from his Believe album.]

However, Diplo went on to say of Bieber, “For me, it feels like he’s always working against himself. He’s a cool guy and into cool music. But I think he’s controlled by the way his fans are.”

“Bieber’s so talented, he needs to just be himself and be by himself and work on his craft. He has a lot of people around; he has to find the right team to help him make something that’s going to stand alone.”

As the Biebs revealed earlier this year, his new album is co-produced by Kanye West and Rick Rubin, and previously described by the singer as a “grown up” version of who he is.

Many will be listening. Will the prince of pop rule the airwaves once more? He’s already made a start.

Justin Bieber

[Images via Hedi Slimane/Hero magazine]