Bob Berg/Getty Images
Hillary Busis
January 27, 2014 AT 09:25 PM EST

Would you take advice from this man?

Before you answer, consider this — what if he happened to be one of the few people in the world who actually understood what you were going through?

Like Justin Bieber, A.J. McLean knows what it’s like to be raised by a single mother, perfect the art of crooning syrupy pop songs, achieve crazy fame at a young age, attract a loyal and slightly scary fanbase of hopelessly devoted teenage girls, wear increasingly goofy hats, get a whole bunch of tattoos, and eventually suffer from substance abuse issues. (McLean has had three stints in rehab; you know what Bieber’s deal is.) Unlike Justin Bieber, though, A.J. McLean has managed to vanquish his celebrity demons — and now he’s hoping to help the troubled teen star do the same.

The once and future Backstreet Boy tells People that he’d like to contact Bieber’s manager Scooter Braun to “see if I can reach out to Justin and see if we can have a sit-down.” Specifically, McLean continues, he wants to “take [Justin] under my wing, and tell him what it was like for me at that age, and maybe see if he will actually hear me.”

Among the things he’d like to tell Bieber: “One of the first things I would say is one of the tattoos that I have on me that says, ‘What are you doing?’ Are you trying to prove something to yourself? Are you trying to prove something to the press and the media? Are you trying to flip everyone the bird and say, ‘I can do what I want!’? Or are you trying to ask for help and you’re not going about it the right way? This could be a cry for help for all we know.”

Lessons learned: A.J. McLean would basically be Bieber’s Sassy Straight Friend. Also, he had someone permanently etch “what are you doing?” onto his body… and yet he still seems like he might be the best person for this job.

Why? Because Bieber’s entourage — you know, Lil’ Twist and Lord Rauhl and Lil’ Za and Sergeant Flort and Lil’ Nerf and Khal Drogo and what have you — may not exactly have Bieber’s best interests at heart. As McLean puts it, “Who knows who he’s surrounding himself with that are egging him on — no pun intended.”

No pun intended? Come on, A.J. — just own it! In fact, maybe your opening salvo to Bieber should go a little something like this: “Justin, quit playin’ games with your life. This advice is all I have to give, but I think it’ll help you more than that — ‘that’ being ‘whatever your enablers are telling you.’ You want to get your career back on track; I want it that way too. And if something happened to you, I’d be inconsolable. So please, take my call — and when you’re feeling the meaning of being lonely, just know this: As long as you love me, I’ll never be gone.”

And then he turns into the Phantom of the Opera. Wait, sorry — what were we talking about?

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