LOS ANGELES -- For more than a year, Justin Bieber has had more tabloid hits than Billboard hits: The singer's career has taken a backseat to his wild-boy antics, and a new arrest for a DUI charge marks a new low for the pop star.
Bieber's arrest Thursday is another sign of the crazy lifestyle that has taken over the Grammy-winning 19-year-old's image -- but a more serious one, given the gravity of his alleged offences. Authorities say Bieber failed a field sobriety test early Thursday and he is facing DUI charges after driving nearly twice the speed limit on a Miami Beach street.
After he was charged, some key industry-watchers were hesitant to talk about the singer's woes and what it would mean to his imploding career.
But rapper Macklemore, 30, was sympathetic. He said if he had become a mainstream musician when he was Bieber's age, people would also see his struggles.
"I think it's challenging for anybody to have your life be a spectacle and to be challenged and critiqued and judged. And it's definitely hard if you've never had any normalcy in your adult life or in your teenage life," said Macklemore, who struggled with substance abuse. "I think that's very challenging. I think if I had blown up at 22 or 23, I think you would have seen me do some (crazy stuff) in public."
The new year kicked off in dramatic fashion for Bieber: Detectives searched his California home looking for surveillance footage that might serve as evidence that the singer was involved in an egg-tossing vandalism case that caused thousands of dollars in damage to a neighbour's home. The investigation garnered more attention than his album release, which happened just days earlier.
Journals was released in December and has had some success: Some singles have hit the Top 40 thanks to digital sales. But it's miles away from the phenomenal, chart-topping success he enjoyed when he debuted as a cherub-faced, soft-voiced teenager in 2009. Since his arrival on the music scene, he's released multiple platinum albums -- five of which have debuted at No. 1 -- and has clocked hit single after hit single, from Baby to Boyfriend. His full-length 2010 debut, My World 2.0, was nominated for two Grammy awards, including Best Pop Vocal Album and Best New Artist, where his loss surprised many.
Bieber hasn't had that kind of success for a while.
His second 3D film, Justin Bieber's Believe, flopped when it debuted in December and grossed just $3.1 million during its first three days around the Christmas holiday. In comparison, his 2011 film, Justin Bieber: Never Say Never, grossed $12.4 million on its opening day and $29.5 million during its opening weekend.
He's remained in the headlines, though for all the wrong reasons. Last year represented a litany of lows, from clashing with a paparazzo to fainting at a show to being photographed smoking marijuana. Some of his troubles have reached the bizarre: German authorities charged him thousands of dollars after he abandoned a pet monkey they seized from him for failing to have proper vaccination papers; the singer had to apologize to Bill Clinton after cursing the former president and spraying his photo with cleaning fluid in a restaurant kitchen.
Bieber's manager, Scooter Braun, was being honoured as part of Billboard's Power 100 event in Los Angeles on Thursday, but didn't attend. Instead, he offered support to Bieber on Twitter.
"I will act in the manner of someone who truly cares. That is all I have to say. Thanks for all those concerned," Braun tweeted. "Been a long day. Bottom line is we are defined by how we handle adversity. Be there when it counts. Love fully in good times and bad."
Meanwhile, a Panamanian radio and television host says Bieber has been relaxing on a beach in Panama on a vacation from the United States.
Eddy Vasquez was filming a show at the Pacific Coast resort in Punta Chame, when he spotted Bieber and members of his entourage walking along the beach. He and his crew took pictures of the singer and his companions, who got on personal watercraft and travelled to a nearby island.
-- The Associated Press