Justin Bieber kicks off new era

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Following the release of his certified platinum fifth album Changes, which was released in February of this year and debuted at number one in the US Billboard Top 200, pop megastar Justin Bieber has begun the start of a new era. With the release of his new lead singles, “Holy” and “Lonely,” multiple award show performances, a new documentary event, and collaborations with artists like Shawn Mendes, Bieber seems to be ending the year off strong. Bieber’s highly anticipated Changes Tour, which was set to promote the release of his fifth studio album, was scheduled to start on May 14, 2020, but has since been rescheduled to the summer of 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic. The now renamed Justin Bieber World Tour has added 19 new arena dates to the 45-date tour. 

Though his original tour was canceled, Bieber has been far from inactive these past few months. This past May, Bieber collaborated with pop sensation Ariana Grande for their charity single “Stuck with U,” which debuted atop the Billboard Hot 100 and won the “Best Music Video from Home” award at the 2020 MTV VMAs. All net proceeds from the single were donated to coronavirus relief funds. Bieber was also featured on his long time friend Jaden Smith’s summer track, “Fallin for You,” and appeared in DJ Khaled and Drake’s “Popstar” music video. After a five year hiatus from solo music, Bieber has made 2020 a comeback year, and the future seems to have much more in store. 

In the fall, Bieber officially started a wave of new music, with the release of a brand new song. “Holy,” featuring Chance the Rapper, which was released on September 18, is the lead single off of Bieber’s yet to be announced sixth album. The soulfully upbeat gospel-influenced pop song, co-written and produced by American record producer Jon Bellion, connects the themes of love with a romantic partner and faith in God. When asked what the song meant to him, Bieber explained, “You could be having the worst day in the world but what kept me going was the love I had with my wife which is the meaning behind ‘Holy.’” The lyrics of the song heavily resonate with the vocalist and how his marriage with American model Hailey Bieber has drawn him closer to his faith. The single has many people reflecting on Bieber’s transformation over the years. Freshman Melinda Wang said, “I think that Justin Bieber has changed a lot through the past decade. Influenced by his fans and rising social media platforms, his music style has also changed a bit.”

The release of the song was accompanied by a music video starring actress Ryan Destiny who plays Bieber’s wife. The video, directed by Colin Tiley, follows the story of a struggling couple who get evicted from their home. At the end of the video, a soldier, played by Wilmer Valderrama, who has just come back from deployment, sees the couple walking on the side of the road and invites them to his home. The heartwarming last few scenes show the soldier emotionally reuniting with his wife and kids and the couple being embraced by the family.

The video’s overall message of love and faith helping people overcome struggles, as well as the themes of hope and unity, add to the feel good vibe of the song. The vision for the music video took inspiration from the obstacles many people are currently facing in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. 

“Colin and I, both of our hearts behind wanting to make this video, both stemmed from the fact that we know that there’s a lot going on in the world right now. A lot of pain, a lot of heartache, a lot of frustration, a lot of people losing jobs,” Bieber explained in a behind-the-scenes video of the shoot. The single was nominated for two People’s Choice Awards for Best Collaboration Song and Best Music Video. It was ranked #3 on Billboard’s Hot 100 making it the 20th Hot 100 top 10 for Bieber “who becomes the 20th artist in the chart’s history to reach the milestone,” according to Billboard.  

Bieber’s second new single, “Lonely” featuring Benny Blanco, was released on October 16 accompanied by the music video premiere. The emotional ballad, which was co-written and produced by Benny Blanco and singer/producer Finneas, is one of the singer’s rawest and most personal singles in which he opens up about his painful journey with fame. Shortly after its release, Bieber took to Instagram, writing, “When he [Blanco] and [Finneas] showed me this song to be honest it was hard to listen to considering how tough it was to get through some of these chapters…Being someone in my position I believe it is powerful to express vulnerability and that’s why I believe this song is so powerful!” The lyrics tell the deeply personal story of Bieber’s struggle with isolation and depression as a result of extreme stardom and media exposure from an early age. He opened up further about the personal nature of the song in the Youtube Original special documentary event entitled Justin Bieber: Next Chapter. The 25 minute special comes eight months after his critically acclaimed docuseries, “Justin Bieber: Seasons,” and gives viewers an exclusive look into Bieber’s life during the pandemic. 

The music video, starring Canadian child actor Jacob Tremblay, who plays a younger version of Bieber, debuted with 6.9 million views on YouTube in its first 24 hours. The somber video opens with Tremblay, rocking Bieber’s signature side-swept hairstyle and wearing an outfit from his 2010 “My World” tour, alone in his dressing room. The camera then follows Tremblay as he walks through the dressing room, up a stairway, and onto a large stage, all while lip-syncing Bieber’s vocals. Once he is on the stage, the camera pans to the back of the empty audience where we can see 26 year old Bieber longfully looking at his younger self. “Lonely” landed the #2 spot on the iTunes chart underneath “Holy” at #1. 

On November 20, Bieber dropped his latest release “Monster,” a highly anticipated collaboration with fellow Canadian pop star, Shawn Mendes. He and Mendes performed the R&B inspired single at the American Music Awards, where he took home the award for Best Pop Male artist. This isn’t the only recent collaboration for Bieber, who was featured on the remix of the summer hit “Mood” by 24kGoldn, released earlier this November. 

Things aren’t slowing down for the singer, who has made multiple live appearances throughout the past few months. His live debut of “Holy” and “Lonely” aired on the October 17 episode of SNL, his first live televised performance since February. His performances were met with much praise from the general public. Since then the star has made his long-awaited return to the award show stage, joining country-pop duo Dan + Shay for the debut live performance of their hit “10,000 Hours” at the Country Music Awards. Bieber performed a medley of his two new singles a week later at the People’s Choice Awards, his first solo award show performance since 2016. The emotional performance of “Lonely,” followed by a dramatic transition to “Holy” alongside a live band and choir, was arguably one of his most energetic and lively performances. This new wave of spotlight for Bieber might have people see him in a different light. “Bieber’s new music has actually allowed me to see a new side of him and I am excited to see what other music he comes up with,” Melinda said.

As 2020 comes to a close, Bieber remains in the public eye. At the end of November, it was announced that he was nominated for four Grammys including Best Pop Vocal Album and Best Pop Solo Performance. The singer will also be hitting the stage on New Year’s Eve for his first concert in three years, a live virtual show in conjunction with T-Mobile. There he will be performing the live debut of his new single entitled “Anyone”. The upbeat new track is set to be released alongside a music video inspired by the classic film “Rocky” on January 1. After a five year hiatus, 2020 has been a big year for Bieber and with the release of new music and projects coming soon, this next year is expected to have much more in store.

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