Justin Bieber opened up to Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon about why he cried at the end of his 2015 MTV VMAs performance, explaining that the whole night was “overwhelming” and that he wasn’t expecting the audience to “support” him as they did.
The 21-year-old superstar chatted and performed his new global hit “What Do You Mean?” on Wednesday night on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, and got candid about the extraordinary moment when he broke down in tears at the end of his onstage spot.
“I, just, um, it was just so overwhelming for me, everything. Just the performance,” Justin admitted to the host, when they got serious after some fun banter about the harness the singer wore at one point during his VMAs turn.
Elaborated on his emotional performance, which was his first at an awards show in two years, Justin went on to say, “I missed some cues, so I was a little disappointed at that,” adding that he was shocked by “just everyone, and just their support.”
“I was, honestly — let me breathe for a second,” Justin continued, pausing briefly to seemingly compose himself as he recalled his big night. “I just wasn’t expecting them [the VMAs audience] to support me in the way they did.”
The Miley Cyrus-hosted event took place on Sunday, August 30, two days after the Biebs dropped his new single “What Do You Mean?” A cinematic, Brad Furman-directed music video premiered immediately after the awards throwdown.
The singer got briefly muddled when he revealed another reason why he cried at MTV’s throwdown.
“Last time I think I was at the VMAs I think,” the Biebs said, before correcting himself and referring to the booing he received at the 2013 Billboard Music Awards. “Last time I was at an awards show I was booed. So…” He said, leaving the sentence hanging.
In the gap, Fallon commiserated, saying, “That’s got to be tough, buddy.”
“I think it’s just like,” Justin replied, pausing before mentioning his in-progress, fourth album, “I’ve worked so hard at this album. I worked so hard at just becoming the man I want to become.” He continued, “And then like stepping into situations, you just can’t help but feel judged.”
The singer confessed, “So, I was just feeling judged and just wanting to win so badly, and just wanting to do what I love so badly, that I just put everything on the line.”
“I think that was, what was so special about the emotional moment at the end — it was authentic, it was real,” Justin added, “It was like, I was really like just wanting it so bad. I don’t know. I’m just ranting now!”
At that point, Fallon injected some levity and brought up the singer’s previous quip about the harness he used at the VMAs being too tight around his “junk.”
After Fallon mentioned that he and the Biebs had known each other for a while, the host touched on how the singer moved on from his turbulent period.
Without getting specific, the Biebs shed light on his past missteps, saying, “What it was, is that I just had a bunch of knuckleheads around me. That was pretty much it.” Wryly, he observed, “And it’s never good to have knuckleheads around.”
“I just went through a place of trying to figure it out,” Justin added. “You have to figure out what you’re OK with and what you’re not OK with, but you have to test the waters.”
“I just happened to be in front of a bunch of spotlights… in front of cameras all the time, and they [the press] caught all those moments.”
— Justin Bieber (@justinbieber) September 3, 2015
At one point on the show Biebs reprised his drum face-off with Questlove from The Roots, are the show’s house band. He also sang a jokey country-style snippet of his Jack U collaboration “Where Are U Now” at Fallon’s request.
Fallon offered praise to the singer for turning his life around, saying, “What makes a man, I think, is also not how much you can fight, but if you get knocked down, can you get up? And, boy, did you get up! And, boy, did you come back fighting!”
Fallon also gave props to “What Do You Mean?” reportedly becoming the fastest selling song on iTunes to hit No. 1 on the U.S. singles sales chart after its release, allegedly doing so within 5 minutes. The tropical-house beat uptempo went on to top 89 iTunes charts around the world at its peak.
Bieber is on track for his first No. 1 on the UK’s official singles chart and a likely high debut on Billboard’s Hot 100 track.
In addition, the single now holds the record for the biggest first week ever at Spotify, breaking a record which was set just a few weeks ago by One Directions’s “Drag Me Down.” After it’s Friday release, “Mean?” pulled in 21 million global streams in just its first five days, according to Nielsen Music. Bieber now holds Spotify’s single-week streaming record in the U.S, as well as globally.
The single, which talks about romantic confusion and miscommunication, has already topped Billboard’s and Twitter’s Top Tracks chart, moving from No. 2 to the top for the week ending September 12.
Before the Biebs killed his performance of “What Do You Mean?” with The Roots, Fallon wrapped his sit-down with the singer by asking if he had any exclusive news to dish. However, Justin couldn’t remember it. Cue a funny moment when the Tonight Show host let his guest read his own new album release date from his notes.
Justin’s next studio album is set for release on November 13. After “Where?” and “Mean?” — frankly — we’re counting the days.
[Images via NBC/ Getty]