Will it be Biebermania 2.0? After spending much of the past year lying low -- recording music, dating Selena Gomez, buying a house in Los Angeles -- Justin Bieber is bent on making pop-culture lightning strike twice.
The Biebs has a new album, Believe, out Tuesday, as well as a two-part NBC special airing Wednesday and Thursday (8 p.m. ET/PT) that captures the 18-year-old onstage and behind the scenes during a recent global promotional blitz. His four-month North American tour begins Sept. 29 in Glendale, Ariz.
"I took nearly eight months to record this album, now it's back to the grind, which I enjoy," Bieber says in a voice that's deepening as his face thins. "I'm maturing, and so is my music."
Believe serves up a mix of Usher-guided tunes that acknowledge the YouTube phenomenon's core fans with tender ballads such as Catching Feelings, while courting older listeners with the dubstep rhythms of All Around the World and collaborations with Drake and Nicki Minaj.
"With Justin Timberlake going into acting, the door is open for this other Justin to be the white artist who can court an African-American audience," says Ian Drew, senior music editor at Us Weekly.
Not to mention a range of nationalities. On his recent promo tour, girls stormed the streets of Oslo, Milan and Madrid. Things were so crazy in Paris that he smacked his head on a glass wall. "You'll see that in the (NBC) show, just what I go through on a given day," Bieber says.
When footage rolled in last week -- which depicted hundreds of thousands mobbing the singer in Mexico City -- NBC decided to make Justin Bieber: All Around the World a two-episode event.
"You see the crowds, and you just think Michael Jackson," says Doug Vaughan, NBC's senior vice president of specials and late night. "Girls cheer when he arrives and cry when he leaves. All teen stars grow up, but he seems to be keeping his fans in the process."
With many stops on the upcoming tour already sold out, "Justin's not having any issues with his base," says Gary Bongiovanni, editor of Pollstar, which tracks the concert business. "He seems to be in that zone Miley (Cyrus) was in, where you're white-hot almost no matter what you do."
Bieber intends to keep things glowing.
"Once you're on top, people wonder when you'll fall. I have to keep working hard."
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