Justin Bieber was booed as he accepted the first ever Milestone Award at the 2013 Billboard Music Awards on Sunday.
The 19-year-old beat out the last two finalists, Taylor Swift and Bruno Mars, in the fan-only voted category for musical ingenuity and innovation sponsored by Chevrolet and presented by Cee Lo Green. Voting began April 1 and ended during the awards show itself.
But the fact that the teen singer is the first artist under 19 to score five number one albums on Billboard’s 200 Album chart, has sold over 15 million records, and recently saw “Baby” become the highest certified single in history failed to impress a sizeable portion of the audience that packed Las Vegas’ MGM Grand Garden Arena.
Bieber also won the Top Social Artist award and the Best Male Artist award.
As he walked up to the stage receive the fiercely fought Milestone Award, the singer was cheered. But, as the introduction music faded, the boos began in earnest.
Although he wore sunglasses, the singer looked visibly shocked as he heard the catcalling. After composing himself, though he stuttered throughout, Bieber said:
“I think it’s, I’m 19-years-old – I’m 19-years-old,” he then touched the shoulder of Green who may have said something encouraging.
“I-I think I’m doing a pretty good job, [loud cheers from some of the crowd] and basically from my heart, I really just want to say it should – it should really be about the music, it should be about the craft – the craft that I’m making.”
Appearing frustrated as he fought to speak against the chorus of boos, Bieber added:
“This is not a gimmick – I’m not – I’m not a gim… this is not a gimmick. I’m – I’m an artist and I should be taken seriously and this – all this other bull should not be spoken of.” [Some cheers were heard at this point.]
Battling the rising booing, the Canadian raised his voice to be heard above the noise:
“I want to thank my manager Scooter Braun. I want to thank my family at home. I want to thank my mother and my father. I want to thank Jesus Christ!”
Raising his hand upwards, Bieber then removed his shades before continuing:
“Mom I love you so much, Dad I love you. Little brother and sister I love you so much. Thank you guys so much. Fans you’re incredible!”
It was undoubtedly a devastating moment for the teen star. Earlier in the show, he performed twice. First singing “Take You,” later appearing with will.i.am for “thatPOWER.”
The reaction of some of the Las Vegas crowd is without question a reflection of a general opinion — recently expressed in a Public Policy Polling poll — that Bieber behaved badly during his just completed first leg of his Believe tour.
Some observers have noted the willfully sensationalized media reporting of the tour, but it’s clear the sum of incidents which included:
The quarantining of the singer’s monkey when he traveled to Munich with his former pet without proper documentation, a tour bus drug bust in Sweden, at least three late shows, a run-in with a paparazzo in London, nightclub disputes, speeding fines in Dubai and an allegation of battery, have tried the patience of the American public.
Footage of the teen star being comforted after the booing debacle by on-again, off-again ex-girlfriend Selena Gomez — the pair in fact didn’t sit together at the awards — has since surfaced online.
Bieber did receive some firm support on Twitter. His mother, Patti Mallette, wrote:
Amazing 2013 Billboard Music Awards tonight! Of course my personal favorite was @justinbieber ;) So Proud! Xo
— Pattie Mallette (@pattiemallette) May 20, 2013
While Chris Brown, who also performed at Billboard’s event, tweeted:
Congrats @justinbieber.Focus and fuck the bullshit! Love ya boy!
— Chris Brown(@chrisbrown) May 20, 2013
Miley Cyrus, who previously introduced and presented the Top Male Artist award to Bieber, posted:
Jan Smith, who was Bieber’s vocal coach when he entered the industry at 15, tweeted:
The singer’s manager, Scooter Braun, tweeted a cryptic message, saying:
“If you can wait and not be tired by waiting, Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies, Or being hated, don’t give way to hating” ~Kipling
— Scooter Braun (@scooterbraun) May 20, 2013
Bieber also posted several messages on his Twitter account [Note: He got his award count wrong.]
2 performances and 2 awards. Grateful to my #Beliebers. Our awards. Love u
— Justin Bieber (@justinbieber) May 20, 2013
I love music, my fans, my family, my friends.. And I love The Lord
— Justin Bieber (@justinbieber) May 20, 2013
The singer’s last tweet simply read “Blessed.”
Memorable moments from the rest of Billboard’s show saw Taylor Swift win eight awards out of her 11 nominations, including Top Artist and Top Billboard 200 Album for Red. Accepting, the 23-year-old thanked her fans, saying:
“The fact that you went out bought over a million copies of this album in its first week is magical!”
Miguel shone in an outstanding performance of Adorn” from his Kaleidoscope album. However, while leaping from one part of the stage to another, he landed on one woman and appeared to kick another mosh pit fan by accident.
Lil Wayne and Nicki Minaj delivered a provocative performance during their collaboration on “High School” that saw Minaj give a ‘Twerking’ masterclass.
Madonna, who won the Top Touring Artist, Dance Artist and Dance Album awards for MDNA thanked her fans “for supporting me for three decades. Without you I truly wouldn’t be here.”
But the showstopping performance of the night belonged to Prince. Billboard’s Icon Award winner, backed by his band 3rdEyeGirl, debuted a new song “Fix Ur Life Up” and delivered a new take on the classic “Lets Go Crazy” in a medley.
For the full list of winners click here.
What were your favorite and least favorite moments of the Billboard Music Awards, and do you think the booing of Justin Bieber was appropriate or not?