Dec. 26, 2013 at 8:27 AM ET
So is he or isn't he? Justin Bieber has been keeping fans and non-fans alike wondering if they should believe him when he says he's "retiring."
It all started in mid-December, when Bieber gave an interview to Los Angeles radio station Power 106 FM in which he dropped the R-bomb. Then, on Christmas Eve, he asserted it again, this time on Twitter:
But immediately after, he seemed to back off.
So what's the real story? Details remain somewhat fuzzy because while Bieber himself said he's leaving the business, while his manager Scooter Braun noted the young star is actually just going to take a break.
"He hasn't taken time off since he was 12 ... he knows he wants it, and wants to spend time with this family. His younger brother and sister are starting to grow up and he doesn't want to miss their childhood," Braun told Access Hollywood on Dec. 18, after the interview on Power 106. "I think for his well-being at 19, 20 years old, (it’s good for him) to take time for himself, to figure out who he wants to be."
A spokesperson for the pop star declined to comment, but a source close to Bieber told TODAY, "He's not retiring. ... He still plans to move ahead. He just finished a tour. ... Nothing has changed."
Still, that's hard to reconcile with some of the statements Bieber made during the radio interview. He told the Power 106 DJ, "(After) the new album, I'm actually, ah, I'm retiring, man. I'm retiring. I'm taking ... I'm just going to take some time ... I think I'm going to probably quit music."
Later in the interview Bieber said he was going to go play golf, and the DJ asked, "Really, though?"
"I'm just messing around with you," said the singer — after which the DJ jumped to another subject entirely, leaving the issue of just what Bieber was "messing around" with — golf or retirement — hanging in the air.
If true, Justin Bieber will have broken millions of young women's hearts ... and simultaneously given others reason to cheer. But it's hard to tell when the pop sensation is being serious: For one thing, he mulled quitting the business before when he was accused of fathering a fan's child.
And could it be the singer is being a savvy marketer? After all, his Twitter "announcement" was well timed, coming on the eve of the release of his latest film, "Justin Bieber's Believe." But if he does retire, the hashtag has already been created on Twitter by his legion of fans, who are begging #DontRetire in dozens of tweets.