While Justin Bieber might be experiencing a renaissance of sorts – going from brat pop icon to repentant musician with the release of his latest album – some stubborn music fans are yet to join the army of Beliebers, and the Canadian pop star’s clothes aren’t helping his case.
As Alternative Nation report, Bieber premiered his Purpose World Tour on the Seattle stage this past week, and took the opportunity to pay homage, at least in a stylistic sense, to the city’s famed grunge roots.
Sporting two flannel shirts, ripped jeans, bleached floppy blonde locks and a t-shirt emblazoned with Kurt Cobain’s face no less, Bieber appeared to be channelling the spirit of the Nirvana frontman, and online reactions to the homage have been mixed.
Not content with keeping his imitation to simply aesthetics, Bieber also played a portion of the show acoustically, sitting on vintage furniture in a way very reminiscent of a Nirvana’s 1993 MTV Unplugged performance.
Consequence of Sound labelled the performance as “cringeworthy”, a sentiment increased in some when, following the show, noted philosopher Jaden Smith tweeted that “Kurt Cobain is still alive” and “he lives on in the souls of the youth.”
This is not the first time Bieber has come under fire for appropriating music legends, appearing on multiple talk shows last year wearing both Metallica and Nirvana t-shirts. His stylist Karla Welch came out in defence of the outfits, arguing that if he was alive today, Cobain would have been totally fine with Biebs repping his merch.
“Of course he’s a fan of Nirvana,” she said of Bieber. “I think it’s so funny that all these people are up in arms. I’m sure Kurt Cobain would be like – I mean I can’t speak for him, obviously – but I don’t think he was so snotty or that he would diss anyone who appreciated his music. I think he understood that that is like the antithesis of music appreciation.
“It’s so funny. But you know, fans are fans!” she added. “Whatever you want to say about being pop, but I don’t think Kurt Cobain gave two fucks, and I don’t think Justin Bieber does either. You know what I mean?”
For what it’s worth, Courtney Love and Krist Novoselić are on board with the look:
You're cool in my book @justinbieber xc
— Courtney Love Cobain (@Courtney) November 23, 2015
Everybody loves Justin. https://t.co/GUaFR3qcdV
— Krist Novoselić (@KristNovoselic) February 11, 2016
Catch fan shot footage of Bieber’s acoustic set here below.
Watch: Justin Bieber – PURPOSE TOUR: Love Yourself (Live from Seattle)
WAS JUSTIN BIEBER CHANNELING KURT COBAIN AT HIS SEATTLE CONCERT? pic.twitter.com/N8or7Ra2zm
— best song lyrics (@musicispowers) March 12, 2016
There's more than one photo of Justin Bieber in Kurt Cobain cosplay so it's not from The Onion.
— DJ Meph (@djmeph) March 15, 2016
"Justin Bieber imita a Kurt Cobain en un recital en Seattle"
Bueno chau, chicos, cerremos todo. pic.twitter.com/r7ZeyIh6cI
— Isabel 이사 (@Isaluini) March 15, 2016
— Alice Nicolov (@alicenicolov72) March 15, 2016