Today in Justin Bieber stories comes news that the shirtless, cross tattoo-featuring image of Bieber seen on the cover art for his upcoming Purpose album has led to several Middle Eastern countries banning it.
TMZ claims the album’s artwork is a no-go in Muslim-dominant countries due to its cover, which shows a “topless Justin Bieber and symbols of Jesus Christ.”
Naming Indonesia as one of the countries balking at Bieber’s new record — it is the fourth most densely populated country and the most populated Muslim-predominant country (255 million) — the site reports that Bieber’s toplessness and Jesus Christ associated cross tattoo are “two things that just won’t fly in the Middle East, where Justin’s new album has been rejected for being too provocative.”
Bieber’s new album, titled Purpose, gets an official release on November 13. The 21-year-old superstar unwrapped the cover over the weekend in a series of Instagram posts, revealing artwork designed by L.A. based street artist Retna, otherwise known as Marquis Lewis.
Blue, white, and black text were used in the final three cover art posts.
It’s claimed Team Bieber are getting another cover together for Purpose, one that would presumably not feature the heartthrob topless or with his cross tattoo visible to ensure the album can be marketed and sold in Muslim-majority countries.
Realistically, it’s likely Bieber’s team and record company, Def Jam, will already be aware of the artwork requirements in the Middle East and have an alternative cover for those countries.
Tailoring cover art for the cultural norms of other countries is a well-established practice for western artists. This will have been done for Selena Gomez’s new Revival album release and most contemporary female album covers, which invariably show a lot of skin.
— Selena Gomez (@selenagomez) October 9, 2015
Bieber recently shared his thoughts about his Christian faith and how it reconnecting with it helped him turn around his life after a turbulent period.
“I, personally, love Jesus and that was my salvation,’ he told Complex magazine in its October/ November issue. He added, “I want to share what I’m going through and what I’m feeling and I think it shouldn’t be ostracized. My faith has brought me to a whole other level. I love talking about my faith… I’m at a point where I’m not going to hold this in.’
Meanwhile, in other Justin Bieber news, the singer’s manager, Scooter Braun, and some of the Biebs’ studio team during the making of Purpose have commented on Twitter about their excitement for the impending release.
“Finishing touches #purpose @justinbieber #nov13,” Braun tweeted.
Chris “Tek” O’Ryan, who is part of the production and engineering team, posted a photo of himself with Justin on Instagram in a recording studio, revealing he’s “[w]orked on pretty much every song [Justin]’s done since he started!” He added that Bieber was “[a]lways a gentleman, he poured me a glass of red and let me know I was appreciated.”
“Moments like these put all the hard work into perspective. And yes, the album is incredible!,” O’Ryan added.
Finishing up the next album #purpose with my dude @justinbieber. Worked on pretty much every song he's done since he started! Always a gentleman, he poured me a glass of red and let me know I was appreciated. Moments like these put all the hard work into perspective. And yes, the album is incredible!
Justin posted two teasers to his Instagram account, later deleting one video.
Both clips show the Biebs working on urban dance moves with longtime choreographer Nick DeMoura. The singer captioned the remaining clip, “It it too late to say I’m sorry now? @nickdemoura.” The second read, “Sorry @nickdemoura.”
Another part of the song is heard in the second clip.
Justin’s latest single “What Do You Mean?” debuted atop the Billboard Hot 100 on September 8 (for the chart week ending September 19), and is now his first Number one on the Top 40-based radio airplay Pop Songs chart. The song and his Top 10 hit “Where Are U Now?” with Skrillex and Diplo will feature on his new album.
We’ll keep our eyes peeled for possible Purpose cover changes. If and when modifications are made, Justin Bieber fans in the Middle East will no doubt hope they’ll be as stunning as the original artwork.
[Images via Retna / The Wall Group]