Justin Bieber’s character and motivations behind his impressive comeback are being defended by Elvis Duran, a highly respected, longstanding morning show host at New York’s Z100 radio station. Duran says the singer was “honest” and genuine in their recent interview, and that Bieber isn’t 100 percent sure how people will accept him and his new music.
Duran, who has known Bieber since the start of his six-year career, chatted with the 21-year-old before their videoed interview aired on August 28, which was the same day his now-No. 1 single, “What Do You Mean?”, officially dropped. Two days later, the Canadian stunned millions when he cried onstage at the MTV VMAs after singing his Jack Ü hit, “Where Are Ü Now?” and “Mean.”
Bieber offered highly plausible reasons for his emotional denouement, subsequently telling Jimmy Fallon that it was down to a mix of feeling overwhelmed by the occasion, disappointed over missed cues, and blown away by the standing ovation he received from the audience, as he was expecting to be booed as he had the last time he performed at an award show.
Despite this, some media and press outlets (especially the ones that have benefited from clickbait traffic gained from an anti-Bieber stance), viewed the singer’s tears, his explanation for them, and comeback in general with cynicism or disbelief. Page Six’s claim that Bieber’s team “banned” live promo interviews to keep controversy to a minimum was one of those voices.
However, Hot 99.5 radio host Toby Knapp later said sources at Bieber’s management team told him via email that Page Six’s claims were, “So crazy, totally not true,” adding, “we recorded the interviews so they can air on Friday when the song is out!”
More recently, the press hyped up video footage of Bieber complaining to a Today Show director about a camera being too close to catch his dance moves. At the time, the singer was not aware his microphone was live and had thought the show had cut to a commercial.
Inevitably, U.K. tabloids, Page Six, Uproxx, Heatworld, and more seized on Bieber’s accidentally-aired call-out, dubbing it a “tantrum” or “hissy fit.” In reality, the heartthrob’s complaint lasted seconds, amounted to three sentences — which he didn’t know were airing — and isn’t an unusual concern for artists.
The angst Bieber expressed seems to align with his high-strung VMAs’ tears, and the pressure and desire he likely feels to pull off solid performances.
The veteran DJ says he believes Bieber is honest and genuine about who he is, noting that Bieber’s team didn’t prep him [Duran] “at all” prior to his interview with the singer. Elvis also revealed nothing was “off-limits,” adding, “Not one thing, not at all.”
In addition to their pre-recorded talk — during which Bieber opened up about topics such as wanting to leave a positive legacy, trust issues, and his efforts to be with supportive people who can help him to be the “best version” of himself — Duran said he had the same kind of conversations with Bieber when they weren’t taping.
Alluding to Page Six’s dubious claims (anyone remember the Carters divorce myth?), Duran said many of his own interviews are pre-taped, and further, that Bieber’s team never had any worries about an on-air ambush on his show, which he said Bieber views as a “safe haven.”
Of Bieber’s persona and authenticity, Duran said the singer’s demeanor [while recording] “was honest,” adding, “It was the same thing we would get when he was not on.”
Notably, Duran said he thinks Bieber’s crying at the VMAs was a “really telling,” “great” moment. The host said he felt the singer was “sort of afraid [at the VMAs]” of how people would react to his new music.
“He’s not 100 percent sure how he’s going to be accepted and received,” the DJ continued, explaining that the “audience’s massive response” at the VMAs was an outcome Bieber was likely not expecting.
Summing it up, Duran said he doesn’t think Bieber will be “making any huge mammoth apologies to anyone,” but thought the singer would address responsibilities and share any disappointments and heartbreaks he had had had on his upcoming new album.
“We had several years of Justin portrayed as a bad boy,” Duran told THR candidly, adding, “We took our eyes off the fact that this guy has a ton of talent. He admittedly crossed the lines many times but I knew there would come a day he would have to get back into a studio and get back to work.”
The DJ also referred to other artists whose sound has changed or taken a break from music, citing Lady Gaga, Rihanna, Taylor Swift, and Demi Lovato as examples.
Duran’s advice? “When you do come back from whatever your hiatus is, you do need to show where you are in your life. Keep in mind that your last piece of work is what people know about you.” He concluded, “We’re watching these people evolve and grow as people… they are showing that through their artistry.”
For Justin Bieber, it’s likely the self-serving attempts by some in press to perpetuate a negative view of the singer will continue. But, Duran has a wide listener reach and is highly regarded in entertainment broadcasting, so his endorsement of the star carries weight.
[Images via Getty Images]