Wherever Justin Bieber goes, throngs of screaming fans follow. Now the potency of his magic formula is about to be tested in Moscow for the first time.
Much like the Kremlin that he wants to see during his first visit to Russia, the 19-year-old singing protege needs no elaborate introductions. It's enough to add up the 15 million albums he sold, his 37 million followers on Twitter and the sheer number of headlines he makes around the world daily.
If you're still not convinced, 15 minutes of talking to a "Belieber" in a poster-plastered shrine to the young star should do it.
Bieber has hit a rough patch over the past weeks, stirring controversy over his visit to Anne Frank's Museum in Amsterdam and most recently, posting a picture on Twitter of what appears to be an illustration of the singer clutching an undressed fan.
But regardless of how often these controversies pop up, they don't seem to dishearten the core of Bieber's fan base. Perhaps the reason for this is that his commitment to devotees never waivers.
Among his past fan-friendly stunts are Bieber's surprising impromptu street performances and house visits, bringing followers pizza or visiting them in hospital, and reposting their pleas for recognition on Twitter — all set to a live soundtrack ranging from high pitched screams to hoarse hyperventilation.
Justin Bieber answered blitz questions via e-mail for The Moscow Times ahead of his first concert in Russia, talking about his Twitter strategy, warm hats and the importance of the word "swaggy."
Q: This will be your first time in Moscow. What sights are you most eager to see?
A: I want to see the Kremlin if I can. But I'm hoping my fans will tell me the best places to go.
Q: How do you usually overcome the language barriers between you and your fans?
A: Music is a universal language so I haven't really had any difficulty communicating with my fans when I'm on stage. I hope that Russia will be no different.
Q: Speaking of language barriers, there seem to be fewer and fewer of them these days. Nowadays some young Russians learn English by listening to your music. What are some of the hippest words that your fans should learn from your songs?
A: Swaggy :)
Q: You have said that messing up is part of growing up. Do you have a timeline for when the "growing up" stops, or do you feel that artists should always keep a bit of their childish side intact?
A: I think that what I get to do and experience everyday as a performer is so amazing. I never want to stop enjoying it.
Q: What do you consider to be your biggest accomplishment so far?
A: Meeting President Obama was a big moment for me.
Q: You have some recognizable nicknames now. Have you had other ones when you were growing up?
A: Not really. Everyone pretty much calls me Justin.
Q: Do you have a lucky charm that you always bring with you on long journeys, like this year-long tour?
A: Not really. I'm not very superstitious.
Q: Muscovites are infamous workaholics, something you can probably relate to! What are your tips for easing back? Do you ever get a sense of guilt when you take a break?
A: I just like to relax and hang out with my friends. Do normal things. Go shopping. I don't feel bad when I do it. Everyone deserves a little time off.
Q: Journalists and businesspeople want to know: What is the quickest way to get 36 million followers on Twitter?
A: Be good to your fans. Use it to communicate with them. My Twitter is my way to connect with my fans. It's authentic and I think my fans recognize and appreciate that.
Q: Let's talk style. If there is just one piece of clothing that you could take from the Russian style book, what would it be?
A: I think that your warm hats are great! I wear a lot of harem pants and like to be comfortable in my clothes.
Q: Moscow is getting ready to host a big tattoo festival in May. Do you have plans to get any new ones?
A: Not right now, but you never know.
Q: What is the quickest way to make you smile?
A: Do something nice for someone else. Giving back is the nicest and most important thing we can do.
Justin Bieber performs at 7:30 p.m. on April 30 as part of his Believe world tour. His first-time appearance in Russia will be at the Oliimpiisky Stadium, located at 16/1 Olimpiisky Prospekt. Phone: +7 495-786-3333.
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