Justin Bieber brought the real to his highly anticipated, emotional comeback performance at MTV’s Video Music Awards on Sunday, where he sang his Skrillex and Diplo-produced hit “Where Are Ü Now” and his live debut of his new single “What Do You Mean?”
Bieber brought the cheering VMAs crowd to its feet at Los Angeles’ Microsoft Theater as he sang, danced, sweated, and flew over the stage as his pre-recorded words about falling, getting back up stronger, and having faith were heard. The 21-year-old superstar broke down and cried at the end of his two-song spot — and in that moment — Justin Bieber owned a large part of the 2015 MTV Video Music Awards.
Bieber’s return to MTV’s stage marks his first VMAs performance since 2010, and his first major awards show performance since he was booed while accepting the inaugural Milestone Chevrolet award at the 2013 Billboard Music Awards, in what was a turbulent year.
But that was then. Amid continuing, but somewhat lessening excoriation, by the public and mainstream media, for typical, teen-like acting out (which clearly had deeper roots), the Canadian made numerous apologies during the first few months of 2015. Fast forward to Sunday’s intense, and evidently authentic performance at the VMAs, seals his comeback ahead of his fourth, studio album arriving in November.
The Biebs’ kicked off his onstage spot without any introduction straight after a commercial break. The all-black clad singer was shown silhouetted against a backdrop of blue lights as screams erupted from the crowd, before he opened into the bittersweet first verse of what is, for many, the song of the summer.
— MTV (@MTV) August 31, 2015
Hot stepping down the stage catwalk, the Prince of Pop was joined by white-clad, male backup dancers for the now familiar “Where Are U Now” dance sequence.
The Bieb was a little out of breath and pitchy towards the end of his first song, but no-one in the VMAs audience (or elsewhere) seemed to care.
The mood shifted up, amid gorgeous lighting and white-clad female backup dancers, as Bieber ushered in his brand new hit “What Do You Mean?“
After the breakdown, the singer’s breathing became more labored as he performed, but the vibe stayed up as he connected with hysterical fans in the mosh pit by touching their hands.
With vocals and breath under control for the last chorus of “Mean,” it was lights out for the Biebs’ pre-recorded “Life is a journey” speech, during which he said “when you fall it allows you to get up. The jaw-dropping sight of the singer then rising into the air on a hoist as he spread his arms was spectacular.
Immediately afterwards, cameras showed the Biebs put his hands over his face, before he bent over and broke down in tears onstage, while the VMAs audience cheered wildly for him.
Meanwhile, after Bieber’s talking point VMAs turn, the worldwide smash hit “Where Are U Now” remains hot at radio six months after its release and No. 8 Hot 100 peak. Its accompanying music video also won a Moonman for Best Visual Effects last night. After Friday’s premiere of “What Do You Mean?” along with a unique, lyric video, it is expected to strongly impact Billboard’s Hot 100 chart next week.
The official music video cum mini-movie premiered on Vevo straight after the VMAs. Bieber’s legion of fans are currently trying to break the VEVO record for views in 24 hours. It is unlikely Beliebers will find endless repeats of the sexy visual too taxing.
Justin Bieber is back. And after his iconic, raw, and beautiful performance, no one can deny it.
— Billy Ray Cyrus (@billyraycyrus) August 31, 2015
Billy Ray Cyrus, the father of the VMAs host, Miley, had only praise for Bieber.
— billboard (@billboard) August 31, 2015
Music bible Billboard offered their verdict.
— billboard dance (@billboarddance) August 31, 2015
The Biebs’ mother, Pattie Mallette, had glowing words for her son.
Good job tonight @justinbieber! So much fun! You are so loved. Amazing message. Powerful! I love you so much!! Xoxoxo
— Pattie Mallette (@pattiemallette) August 31, 2015
Orange is the New Black star, Ruby Rose, who is a new friend of Bieber’s, said she was proud of him.
— Ruby Rose (@RubyRose) August 31, 2015
This is the moment it all got real for the singer.
— Vine (@vine) August 31, 2015
More pointed words of praise.
Greetings world, welcome to justin bieber. He’s been here for awhile and has always been this wonderful #WhatDoYouMean
— kathleen kamphausen (@heyguysheyphoto) August 31, 2015
A fan remembers a moment.
— People magazine (@people) August 31, 2015
— People magazine (@people) August 31, 2015
Australian actress-singer, Maia Mitchell.
Bieber’s manager, Scooter Braun, expressed pride in the singer, whose career he has guided since he was 12-years-old.
— Scooter Braun (@scooterbraun) August 31, 2015
[Images via Getty Images / MTV / Verizon]