March 30, 2011 / 7:44 PM / 7 years ago

"Biebermania" spreads to Belgium

ANTWERP (Reuters) - Fame has its “ups and downs,” even for Canadian teenaged singing sensation Justin Bieber who is enjoying a lot of “ups” these days on his European tour that has now spread “Biebermania” to Belgium.

While the 17-year-old heartthrob appears to have the female pre-teen world at his feet, he faces challenges growing up in the media spotlight and with a grueling tour that causes him to lose track of where in the world his next plane is headed.

“There’s ups and downs,” he told reporters in Antwerp, Belgium, where he performs on Wednesday, referring to his life as one of the world’s biggest pop stars.

“I’m not able to go out myself somewhere, but I’m able to travel, do so many cool things ... I’m blessed.”

Bieber said he would not be seeing any of Belgium following his show in Antwerp, which sold out within 30 minutes of tickets being available.

“I leave tonight, actually, so I’m not gonna be here,” he said. “I’ll be somewhere else. I don’t know where I’m going, but I won’t be here.”

Bieber, dressed head-to-toe in black, said he was gradually gaining his footing in the world of adulthood.

“I’m 17, so my mom is still my mom. She’s still there, she still makes decisions, but she’s letting go a little in letting me grow up and start to make my own decisions.”

As for concerns over how growing up might affect his trademark velvety, high-pitched voice, he shrugged them off.

“All guys, their voices change. My voice is deeper than it was before, but it’s gradually changing. It’s not like one day my voice is up here and the next day it’s down here.”


Throngs of girls milled outside shrieking “Justin! Justin!,” some weeping, continuing the wave of “Biebermania” that has accompanied the star on his European tour.

As a security guard shooed fans from the back entrance to the building where the press conference was held, girls thrust at reporters — or anyone else heading inside — handfuls of love notes addressed to Bieber.

“It’s not a problem if I don’t touch him or don’t kiss him,” sobbed Sarah Benouda, 15, through streaming tears. “But just to see him, oh my God!”

Benouda said she skipped class on Wednesday and lied to her mother to take a three-hour train ride from her home in Ottignies to glimpse her idol.

She was hardly alone in vying for the singer’s attention. Other girls held signs reading, “I only date boys named Justin Bieber,” and scrawled his name across their chests and limbs.

While Bieber hopes to win a Grammy one day, and continue advancing his career, he revealed that if he were to pursue a world record, he’d want to win for holding his breath.

“I can hold my breath for a long time, for like three minutes,” he said.

To prove his point, he held his breath for several seconds.

Outside, hundreds of girls held theirs, too.

Reporting by Eva Dou, editing by Mike Collett-White and Bob Tourtellotte

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