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Are you a Belieber? Justin Bieber's latest album could draw more mature crowd to Fargodome

FARGO--Shelby Stangler is a reluctant Belieber. Not long ago, she figured out a new song she liked was sung by Justin Bieber, the Canadian pop star discovered through YouTube videos in 2007 at the age of 13 who started releasing teenybopper-frien...

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Justin Bieber performs a medley of songs at the 2016 Billboard Awards in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S., May 22, 2016. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

FARGO-Shelby Stangler is a reluctant Belieber.

Not long ago, she figured out a new song she liked was sung by Justin Bieber, the Canadian pop star discovered through YouTube videos in 2007 at the age of 13 who started releasing teenybopper-friendly hits in 2009. 

Stangler, 25, was conflicted. For so many years, the Fargo resident hadn't liked his tween-tinged music. Bieber's persona and occasional lapses of judgment hadn't done much to win her over, either.

But the hits from Bieber's fourth studio album, "Purpose," have kept on coming since last year, and she couldn't resist it forever.

"I bought the CD shamefully and I started listening to it, and it's so good," she said.

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Now 22, Bieber's career has soared to new heights with the more mature "Purpose." He earned his first-ever No. 1 single on the Billboard Hot 100 chart with lead single "What Do You Mean?" and followed it up with two more chart-topping singles, "Sorry" and "Love Yourself"-and in the process, earned the appreciation of reluctant adults like Stangler who had written him off as a child star years ago.

Before Bieber performs at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, June 18, at his first Fargodome concert, The Forum caught up with local pop radio personalities on the singer's growing-and older-fan base.

The genres are different, but JT, a Y94 on-air radio personality and Midwest Communication's FM operations manager in Fargo, thinks Bieber has a lot in common with bands like Creed and Nickelback.

"Everybody secretly enjoys at least a couple of their songs but doesn't want to admit to any of their friends," he said.

Just a couple weeks ago, JT said he was in his yard when he saw a Harley-Davidson driven by a "big burly man" coming down the street.

"I did a double take because he had Justin Bieber blaring out of his motorcycle speakers," he said with a chuckle.

That scene would've been hard to imagine just a few years ago, when Bieber was known more for his young female fans and tween hits like "Baby."

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While more adult women have figured it out lately and gotten over the shock of liking Bieber's songs, according to JT, many men are still struggling.

"No guy for the most part really wants to admit that they love a child star that's grown up into this cool man," he explained, even if Bieber now has "fun music" and is good at what he does.

Jesse James, DJ and program director at pop station Big 98.7, reluctantly admitted he found himself getting into one of Bieber's latest singles just a few months ago.

"I'll be like, 'Oh my God, this is a jam,' and then I'll go, 'What am I doing?' " he said.

But after letting it sink in for a few minutes, James said he realized it's OK to appreciate a good song, no matter who sings it.

While he won't defend Bieber's notoriety and past minor legal troubles, he said the singer was just a teenager when he became famous, so he cuts Bieber some slack for growing up in the public eye.

"It certainly seems like he's turned the corner into a viable real solid artist for all kinds of different formats," he said.

Bieber's list of contributing songwriters and producers, too, speaks to the singer's maturing status in pop music, James said. For "Purpose," Bieber teamed up with in-demand producer Skrillex, and he got writing help from Ed Sheeran and Benny Blanco for hit single "Love Yourself."

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"You know the guy's for real and he's got a lot of talent when those people are backing him, because otherwise they wouldn't bother with him," James said.

Stangler and a friend will be at Saturday's Fargodome concert wearing Bieber T-shirts. While she still hesitates admitting she's a fan, she said it's a little easier to own up to it now that the singer has left his teenage image-and younger sound-behind for good.

"The hits he's dropping this year, they're crazy," she said. "Everybody likes them. They're dancey and they got a little techno to them."

If you go

What: Justin Bieber concert with openers Post Malone and Moxie Raia

When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, June 18

Where: Fargodome

Info: Tickets are $50.50 to $116 at  www.fargodome.com , the Fargodome box office or by calling (855) 694-6367.

Related Topics: FARGODOMEFARGO
Ryan Johnson is the Features Editor for The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead. Since joining The Forum's staff in 2012, he has also reported on several beats, including higher education, business and features. Readers can reach him at 218-791-9610 or rmjohnson@forumcomm.com
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