Is Justin Bieber ditching the music industry? The 19-year-old Canadian pop star said as much on Christmas Eve, tweeting, "My beloved beliebers I'm officially retiring," which supported a similar statement he made during a recent interview with Power 106 radio.
His fans may breathe easy, though, as Bieber has sent contradictory messages about his career since that first tweet. Less than 45 minutes after it, he added, "The media talks a lot about me. They make a up a lot of lies and want me to fail but I'm never leaving you, being a belieber is a lifestyle." Then he concluded, "Be kind loving to each other, forgive each other as god forgave us through Christ Merry Christmas IM HERE FOREVER," and resumed heavily promoting his new movie, Believe, ahead of and throughout its Christmas Day opening.
A source entrenched in the surely-swaggy Bieber camp told the New York Daily News that the rumored retirement is "a joke from his end" and "untrue." Believe director John Chu was sympathetic toward the singer in a recent interview with the Hollywood Reporter, saying, "We can't explain everything so we just tried to get to the heart of what happened to him in the past year. He's gone through heartbreak, which for a kid at his age is huge." He added, "I love Justin; he's a really good kid. So when I see him struggle, it hurts me, too."
The retirement announcement does seem like strange timing – given the recent release of both his movie and a new compilation album, Journals – but it follows a controversial year for the young singer. Since January, he shrugged off a photo that appeared to show him smoking pot, passed out at a show in London and threatened a photographer in the same city, ditched his pet monkey in German quarantine, made a tactless comment after visiting the Anne Frank house and apologized to Bill Clinton for defacing a photo of the former president. After that, he embarked on a disastrous South American tour that found him charged for graffiti in Brazil, appearing in a eyebrow-raising video of him sleeping next to a woman and defiling the Argentine flag onstage.