Justin Drew Bieber (pronounced /ˈbiːbɚ/ bee-bər, born March 1, 1994) is a Canadian pop/R&B singer, songwriter and actor. Bieber was discovered in 2008 by Scooter Braun, who happened to come across Bieber’s videos on YouTube and later became his manager. Braun arranged for him to meet with Usher in Atlanta, Georgia, and Bieber was soon signed to Raymond Braun Media Group (RBMG), a joint venture between Braun and Usher, and then to a recording contract with Island Records offered by L.A. Reid. His debut single, “One Time“, released worldwide in 2009, peaked in the top ten in Canada and charted in the top thirty in several international markets. His debut release, My World, followed on November 17, 2009, and was eventually certified platinum in the United States. He became the first artist to have seven songs from a debut album chart on the Billboard Hot 100.
Bieber’s first full studio release, My World 2.0, was released on March 23, 2010 and has since received similar success; it debuted at number one and within the top ten of several countries, and was certified platinum in the United States. It was preceded by the worldwide top-ten single, “Baby“, in January 2010. The music video of “Baby” is currently ranked as the most viewed and most discussed YouTube video, and was the most disliked until being overtaken by Rebecca Black’s song “Friday“. Bieber followed-up the release of his debut album with his first headlining tour, the My World Tour, the remix albums My Worlds Acoustic and Never Say Never – The Remixes, and the 3D biopic-concert film Justin Bieber: Never Say Never – which had an opening weekend gross that nearly matched the record for the biggest opening weekend for a concert-film.
Bieber has been nominated and awarded numerous accolades over the past few years, winning Artist of the Year at the 2010 American Music Awards, and being nominated for Best New Artist and Best Pop Vocal Album at the 53rd Grammy Awards, among others. Bieber is considered a teen idol, and has been subject to acclaim from fans, as well as criticism and controversy from matters concerning his popularity and image.
Bieber was born on March 1, 1994, in London, Ontario, and was raised in Stratford, Ontario. Bieber’s mother, Patricia Lynn “Pattie” Mallette, was 18 years old when she became pregnant with her son. Mallette, who worked a series of low-paying office jobs, raised Bieber as a single mother in low-income housing. Bieber has maintained contact with his father, Jeremy Jack Bieber, who married another woman and had two children. Bieber’s paternal great-grandfather was a German immigrant to Canada. His mother’s ancestry is French Canadian.
During his childhood, Bieber was interested in hockey, soccer, and chess; he often kept his musical aspirations to himself. As he grew up, Bieber taught himself to play the piano, drums, guitar, and trumpet. In early 2007, when he was twelve, Bieber sang Ne-Yo‘s “So Sick” for a local singing competition in Stratford and placed second. Mallette posted a video of the performance on YouTube for their family and friends to see. She continued to upload videos of Bieber singing covers of various R&B songs, and Bieber’s popularity on the site grew.
2008–09: Discovery and My World
While searching for videos of a different singer, Scooter Braun, a former marketing executive of So So Def, clicked on one of Bieber’s 2007 videos by accident. Impressed, Braun tracked down the theater Bieber was performing in, located Bieber’s school, and finally contacted Mallette. Mallette was reluctant because of Braun’s Jewish religion; she remembered praying, “God, I gave him to you. You could send me a Christian man, a Christian label! … you don’t want this Jewish kid to be Justin’s man, do you?” However, after praying with her church elders and receiving their encouragement, she permitted Braun to fly Bieber, then 13, to Atlanta, Georgia, to record demo tapes. A week after arriving, Bieber sang for R&B singer/songwriter Usher. Bieber was soon signed to Raymond Braun Media Group (RBMG), a joint venture between Braun and Usher. Justin Timberlake was also reportedly in the running to sign Bieber, but lost the bidding war to Usher. Usher then arranged an audition with Antonio L.A. Reid of Island Def Jam Music Group, who signed Bieber to Island Records in October 2008 (resulting in a joint venture between RBMG and Island Records). At that point, Bieber and his mother moved to Atlanta temporarily, also the home of Usher and Braun, to record and get counseling from Braun. Braun became Bieber’s manager.
Bieber’s first single, “One Time“, was released to radio while Bieber was still recording his debut album. The song reached number 12 on the Canadian Hot 100 during its first week of release in July 2009, and later peaked at number 17 on the Billboard Hot 100. During fall 2009 it had success in international markets. The song was certified Platinum in Canada and the US and Gold in Australia and New Zealand. Bieber’s first release, an extended play entitled My World, was released on November 17, 2009. The album’s second single, “One Less Lonely Girl“, and two promo singles, “Love Me“, and “Favorite Girl“, were released exclusively on the iTunes store and charted within the top forty of the Billboard Hot 100. “One Less Lonely Girl” was later also released to radio and peaked within the top fifteen in Canada and the US, being certified Gold in the latter. My World was eventually certified Platinum in the US and Double Platinum in both Canada and the UK. To promote the album, Bieber performed on several live shows such as mtvU‘s VMA 09 Tour, European program The Dome, YTV‘s The Next Star, The Today Show, The Wendy Williams Show, Lopez Tonight, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, It’s On with Alexa Chung, Good Morning America, Chelsea Lately, and BET‘s 106 & Park with Rihanna. Bieber also guest starred in an episode of True Jackson, VP in late 2009.
Bieber performed Stevie Wonder‘s “Someday at Christmas” for U.S. President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama at the White House for Christmas in Washington, which was broadcast on December 20, 2009, on U.S. television broadcaster TNT. Bieber was also one of the performers at Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest on December 31, 2009. Bieber was a presenter at the 52nd Grammy Awards on January 31, 2010. He was invited to be a vocalist for the remake of We Are The World for its 25th anniversary to benefit Haiti after the earthquake. Bieber sings the opening line, which was sung by Lionel Richie in the original version. On March 12, 2010, a version of K’naan‘s “Wavin’ Flag” recorded by a collective of Canadian musicians known as Young Artists for Haiti was released. Bieber is featured in the song, performing the closing lines.
2010–present: My World 2.0 and Justin Bieber: Never Say Never
“Baby“, the lead single from his debut album, My World 2.0, which features Ludacris, was released in January 2010 and became his biggest hit thus far, charting at number five in the U.S. and reaching the top ten in seven other countries. Two promo singles “Never Let You Go“, and “U Smile” were top thirty hits on the U.S. Hot 100, and top twenty hits in Canada. According to review aggregator Metacritic, the album has received “generally favorable reviews”. It debuted at number one on the U.S. Billboard 200, making Bieber the youngest solo male act to top the chart since Stevie Wonder in 1963. My World 2.0 also debuted at number one on the Canadian Albums Chart, Irish Albums Chart, and Australian Albums Chart, and the New Zealand Albums Chart and reached the top ten of fifteen other countries. To promote the album, Bieber appeared on several live programs including The View, the 2010 Kids Choice Awards, Nightline, The Late Show with David Letterman, The Dome and 106 and Park. Bieber collaborated with Sean Kingston on his single “Eenie Meenie” which also appeared on Bieber’s debut album. The song reached the top ten in the United Kingdom and Australia, and the top-twenty of most other markets.
On April 10, 2010, Bieber was the musical guest on Saturday Night Live. On July 4, 2010, Bieber performed at the Macy’s Fourth of July Fireworks Spectacular in New York City. The second single from My World 2.0, “Somebody to Love“, was released in April 2010, and a remix was released featuring Bieber’s mentor Usher. The single reached number ten in Canada, number fifteen in the United States, and the top twenty in multiple international countries.
On June 23, 2010, Bieber went on his first official headlining tour, the My World Tour, starting in Hartford, Connecticut, to promote My World and My World 2.0. In July 2010, it was reported that Bieber was the most searched for celebrity on the Internet. That same month his music video, “Baby“, surpassed Lady Gaga‘s “Bad Romance” to become the most viewed, and most disliked YouTube video ever. In September 2010, it was reported that Bieber accounted for three percent of all traffic on Twitter, according to an employee of the social-networking site.
Bieber began recording his second album in July 2010 in New York City. At this point, because of puberty, his voice was deeper than it was when he recorded his first album. In April 2010, the singer discussing his vocals remarked, “It cracks. Like every teenage boy, I’m dealing with it and I have the best vocal coach in the world. […] Some of the notes I hit on “Baby” I can’t hit anymore. We have to lower the key when I sing live.” British singer/songwriter Taio Cruz confirmed in July 2010 that he is writing songs for Bieber’s next album. Hip hop producer Dr. Dre produced two songs with Bieber in July 2010 but it is unknown if they were made for the album, which is currently due for a 2011 release.
Bieber guest-starred in the season premiere of the CBS crime drama CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, aired on September 23, 2010. He played a “troubled teen who is faced with a difficult decision regarding his only brother”. Bieber was also in a subsequent episode which aired on February 17, 2011, in which his character is killed. Bieber performed a medley of “U Smile“, “Baby“, and “Somebody to Love” and briefly played the drums at the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards on September 12, 2010. Bieber announced in October 2010 that he would release an acoustic album, called My Worlds Acoustic. It was released on Black Friday in the United States and featured acoustic versions of songs from his previous albums, and accompanied the release of a completely new song titled “Pray“.
A 3-D part-biopic, part-concert film starring Bieber entitled Justin Bieber: Never Say Never, was released February 11, 2011, directed by Step Up 3D director Jon Chu. It topped the box office with an estimated grossing of $12.4 million on its opening day from 3,105 theaters. It grossed $30.3 million for the weekend and was narrowly beaten by the romantic comedy Just Go With It, which grossed $31 million. Never Say Never is said to have exceeded industry expectations, nearly matching the $31.1 million grossed by Miley Cyrus‘s 2008 3-D concert film, Hannah Montana & Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert, which holds the record for the top debut for a music-documentary.  The film is accompanied by his second remix album, Never Say Never – The Remixes, released February 14, 2011, and features remixes of songs from his debut album, with guest appearances from Miley Cyrus, Chris Brown, and Kanye West, among others.
In June 2011, Bieber was ranked number 2 on the Forbes list of Best-Paid Celebrities under 30. He is the youngest star and 1 of 7 musicians on the list raking in with $53 million earned in a 12 month period.
In March 2011, Bieber confirmed that he was dating singer and actress Selena Gomez.
The Observer newspaper in the UK published a report indicating that Justin Bieber is more influential in the social networking sphere than Barack Obama or The Dalai Lama. According to Jan Hoffman of The New York Times, part of Bieber’s appeal stems from his YouTube channel. Long before he released his EP, My World, in mid-November, the YouTube videos attracted millions of views. Braun recognized the appeal. Prior to flying him to Atlanta, Braun wanted to “build him up more on YouTube first” and had Bieber record more home videos for the channel. “I said: ‘Justin, sing like there’s no one in the room. But let’s not use expensive cameras.’ We’ll give it to kids, let them do the work, so that they feel like it’s theirs”, recalled Braun. Bieber continues to upload videos to the same channel and has opened a Twitter account, from which he interacts with fans regularly; his account was reported in November 2010 to have over 6 million followers. Since then he has been consistently gaining followers at an average of 24,000 per day. The accounts also serve marketing purposes; for example, Bieber’s music video for “One Time” only began selling quickly after it was uploaded to YouTube.
Bieber performing “Favorite Girl” in Zurich, Switzerland April, 2011.
Usher comments that while he and Bieber were both signed at the same age, “I had the chance to ramp up my success, where this has happened to Bieber abruptly.” As a result, Usher, Braun, Bieber’s bodyguard Kenny, and other adults surrounding Bieber constantly coach him on handling fame and his public image. After signing Bieber, Usher appointed one of his former assistants, Ryan Good, to be Bieber’s road manager and stylist. Good, once nicknamed Bieber’s “swagger coach”, created a “streetwise look” for the singer which consisted of baseball caps, hoodies, dog chains and flashy sneakers. Amy Kaufman of The Los Angeles Times comments, “Though a product of a middle-class suburban upbringing in Stratford, Ontario, Bieber’s manner of dress and speech (“Wassup man, how you doin’?” or “It’s like, you know, whateva’ “) suggest he’s mimicking his favorite rappers.”
Bieber is often featured in teen magazines such as Tiger Beat, and has been labeled a “teen hearthrob”. Bieber has released a collection of nail varnishes to raise awareness for charity. Wax statues of Bieber are on display at Madame Tussauds wax museums in New York, Amsterdam and London.
The longer hairstyle formerly worn by Bieber and its popularity with teenage girls proved to be cultural phenomenon, becoming one of the most copied hairstyles among teenage boys. Bieber’s hairstyle has also proved popular with young lesbians.
Bieber changed his hairstyle in February 2011 and a lock of Justin Bieber’s hair has been sold for $40,668 (£25,024) in a charity sale on eBay, with 98 bids in total. The hair toured America with its own bodyguard, and fans could have their picture taken with it in return for a charitable donation. Bieber donated the winnings to a charity which rescues and rehabilitates animals.
Religious, moral and political views
Bieber is a Christian. He said he has a relationship with Jesus, talks to him and “he’s the reason I’m here”. Bieber’s comments in a February 2011 profile in Rolling Stone sparked controversy. Asked whether a person should wait until marriage to have sex, Bieber responded, “I don’t think you should have sex with anyone unless you love them.” Asked about his opinion on abortion, Bieber said he doesn’t “believe in abortion” and that it is “like killing a baby”. When asked about abortion in cases of rape, he said, “Well, I think that’s really sad, but everything happens for a reason. I don’t know how that would be a reason. I guess I haven’t been in that position, so I wouldn’t be able to judge that.” In the same interview, Bieber talked about homosexuality, stating that “It’s everyone’s own decision to do that. It doesn’t affect me and shouldn’t affect anyone else”, with Rolling Stone commenting, “It is not clear whether he intended to label homosexuality as a lifestyle choice.” However, Bieber has also contributed to the It Gets Better Project, a project started in response to the suicide of Billy Lucas, a teenager who was the target of anti-gay bullying. Bieber has said he is not interested in obtaining United States citizenship, praising Canada as being “the best country in the world”, citing its health care system as an example. He is also a supporter of US president Barack Obama, but he does share some aspects of Sarah Palin‘s political views.
Crowd control problems and other fan behavior
Bieber performing in front of a crowd in September 2009
Bieber’s popularity has caused safety concerns. While promoting My World, Bieber was scheduled to appear at Long Island‘s Roosevelt Field Mall, but the performance had to be canceled. The event got out of control, and over 35 units from the Nassau County and Garden City police departments had to be summoned. Several fans received minor injuries. The police arrested an Island Records senior vice-president, James A. Roppo, reportedly for hindering the police’s crowd control efforts by not sending a timely message on Twitter as instructed by the police. James Roppo pleaded not guilty to all charges. On March 24, 2010, Bieber’s manager, Scooter Braun, was arrested on one count of second-degree reckless endangerment and one count of second-degree criminal nuisance related to the incident. Braun pleaded not guilty to both charges and was later released. On May 6, 2011 Bieber’s record company Island Def Jam Record Music Group, and his management company, Remster 3 LLC pleaded guilty to violating local fire codes in the incident while charges against Island Def Jam senior vice president James Roppo were dropped. In return for Bieber’s appearance in a public service announcement against cyberbullying, two misdemeanor charges were dropped against Scooter Braun. Richard Klein, a criminal law professor at Touro Law School, said, “Legally, for him to be involved in the solution to dealing with the criminal charges against other people is extraordinary.” Noah Levy, a senior news editor at the celebrity mag InTouch Weekly called the deal a “PR fantasy” for Bieber.
On April 26, 2010, a scheduled promotional performance was canceled by Australian police after several girls were injured in a crowd crush. Bieber was scheduled to sing three songs for the Channel Seven program, Sunrise. In a Twitter message after the incident, Bieber said: “I want to make this clear… I don’t cancel.” Bieber’s tweet continued, stating: “I woke up this morning to the police canceling the show for safety reasons. I’m very happy about the welcome and the love from around the world, but I want everyone to still remember my fans’ safety comes first. At the end of the day I want you all to enjoy the music.” The incident did not deter Justin Bieber from scheduling a five-city tour in Australia, as announced on December 2010.
In Liverpool, on his day off before his concert, Bieber was not allowed to step outside his hotel: he had been warned by police that he could be arrested for ‘inciting a riot’ if he did.
Bieber’s popularity among pre-teen and teenage girls, including his wide-ranging fan base colloquially known as “Beliebers”, has occasionally led to some harsh criticism by his fans of other people, including personal attacks, death threats, and slanderous remarks. These are largely aimed at females with whom the press has romantically associated Bieber, most notably socialite, entrepreneur, and reality television star Kim Kardashian, singer and one-time tour-mate Jasmine Villegas, and actress/singer Selena Gomez.
Criticism and parodies
Bieber has often been criticized for looking and sounding younger than his age, his teen-pop music, image, and frequent media attention. He has been a frequent target of Internet bloggers and message board posters—notably by users of Internet message board 4chan, users of YouTube, and various Facebook groups. Pranks have included a successful campaign to push “Justin Bieber Syphilis” to the top of the Google Trends Hot Searches list; hacked YouTube videos that were altered to redirect users to adult websites or trigger pop-up messages saying that Bieber had been killed in a car accident; his Last.fm photograph being changed to pornographic images; various rumors circulated, including that Bieber had died, joined a cult, or even that his mother was offered $50,000 to pose topless in Playboy magazine—none of which were true. All this forced the affected companies to update their security protocols to reverse the damage, and Bieber himself tweeted to fans reassuring them that he was still living and that false rumors about his mother “just grossed and weirded [him] out”.
Most notable was the campaign to send Bieber to North Korea as part of his world tour (entitled My World Tour). This was carried out in part by 4chan, Digg, and Reddit users voting for the country on the tour’s website, for the free competition to nominate a bonus country for the tour—the second-placed country being Israel. It is highly unlikely that Bieber would actually have been given permission by the North Korean government, or concert organizers and management, to enter the country. Universal Music Group has denied any involvement in a poll that became the target of an online prank. A spokesperson for UMG told BBC News that it was a “hoax” but declined to give any further comment. Nick Collins of The Daily Telegraph speculated that “Bieber’s character also appears to strike a particularly sour note with his Internet critics, with many remarks commenting on his youthful appearance, his teen-pop songs, his image as a heart-throb to young teenage girls and his manner of speech”.
Awards and nominations