Justin Bieber became a global pop phenomenon with his debut, My World (2009), a multi-platinum smash in the singer's native Canada and several other territories. Only 15 years old at the time of its release, Bieber was fast-tracked to sustained commercial presence with a remix compilation, an acoustic set, a concert film, and additional studio recordings, including the Grammy-nominated My World 2.0 (2010) and similarly chart-topping Believe (2012), all hitting the market within a three-year period. Bieber's progress ground to a halt, but he re-emerged with the "tropical house"-flavored Skrillex and Diplo collaboration "Where Are Ü Now" (2015), a Grammy-winner in the dance field, and third proper album Purpose (also 2015), which led to four nominations from Recording Academy voters, including Song of the Year (for "Love Yourself") and Album of the Year. By the end of the 2010s, Bieber had added to his hits as a featured artist with a remix of Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee's "Despacito," DJ Khaled's "I'm the One" and "No Brainer," David Guetta's "2U," Ed Sheeran's "I Don't Care," and Dan + Shay's "10,000 Hours." His evolution as an R&B-inspired, stylistically flexible pop artist has since continued with the chart-topping Changes (2020).
A native of Stratford, Ontario, Bieber inched toward stardom with a second-place finish in a local 2007 singing competition and began posting his performances on YouTube. The videos caught the attention of Scooter Braun, a talent agent and former So So Def marketing executive who helped Bieber land an impromptu audition with R&B star Usher. Impressed by what he saw, Usher, along with Island/Def Jam chairman L.A. Reid, quickly signed the 15-year-old Bieber to a recording contract. Bieber released his first single, "One Time," in May 2009. Supported by a popular video that featured an appearance by Usher, "One Time" went platinum in both Canada and the U.S., a feat replicated later that year with the release of My World. The disc was technically an EP featuring only seven songs, but it topped the Canadian Albums Chart and reached number six on the Billboard 200. Less than a year after his debut, Bieber returned with the "second half" of My World, a ten-song release titled My World 2.0. Further demonstrating his and his management's marketing power, over 8,000 fans who pre-ordered My World 2.0 had their head shots used in a photo mosaic (formed to look like a portrait of Bieber) that was displayed on the back side of the disc's booklet. The set, powered by the Ludacris collaboration "Baby" -- Bieber's first single to reach the Top Ten of the Canadian and U.S. Hot 100 charts -- entered the Canadian and U.S. charts at number one. A few weeks later, a combination of My World and My World 2.0, titled My Worlds, appeared in some territories.
By the end of 2010, Bieber issued My Worlds Acoustic, a set featuring acoustic versions of nine songs off the My World discs, as well as one new song. The following February, the 3-D documentary Never Say Never was released to theaters. The seven-track Never Say Never: The Remixes, issued just days after the film, maintained the flow of Bieber product, and featured appearances from the likes of Kanye West, Usher, and Miley Cyrus. Just in time for Christmas 2011 came the holiday-themed Under the Mistletoe, complete with several celebrity guest duets and an original song, "Mistletoe," for the first single, which entered the Holiday Songs chart at number two.
In 2012, Bieber returned with the proper follow-up to My World 2.0, titled Believe. With a more mature sound based in dance-pop and R&B, it featured production from Darkchild, Diplo, and Max Martin. Believe became yet another Canadian and U.S. number one album, paced by hits such as "Boyfriend," "As Long as You Love Me" (featuring Big Sean), and "Beauty and a Beat" (with Nicki Minaj). Believe Acoustic, a sequel to My Worlds Acoustic, followed in 2013. Late that year, Bieber released the first in a weekly series of singles. Nearly all of them charted, led by Top 40 showings in Canada and the U.S. for "All Around the World" (featuring Ludacris) and "Heartbreaker." Those and other songs were compiled for release as Journals, a digital download-only album that wasn't submitted for sales tracking, so it did not chart. Only two days later, on December 25, the documentary Justin Bieber's Believe was released to theaters.
A collaboration with Cody Simpson, "Home to Mama," was Bieber's lone charting release in 2014, a year during which Bieber made headlines more frequently for nonmusical reasons. The next year, however, he bounced back in a major way. A tropical house remix of the My World 2.0 bonus cut "Where Are You Now," credited to Diplo and Skrillex Present Jack Ü (and retitled "Where Are Ü Now"), became a Top Ten hit in Canada and the U.S. Later in the year, "What Do You Mean?," a track that skillfully strengthened Bieber's tropical house connection, topped both national charts. This paved the way for Purpose, the singer's fourth consecutive Canadian and U.S. charts-topper, promoted with the equally successful singles "Sorry" and "Love Yourself." Bieber was subsequently a nominee in two of the "big four" Grammy categories -- Song of the Year, for "Lose Yourself," plus Album of the Year -- as well as Best Pop Vocal Album and Best Pop Solo Performance.
After spending the first half of 2016 touring in support of Purpose, Bieber collaborated on a pair of singles, first with Major Lazer and MØ on the hit "Cold Water" and a little later with DJ Snake on "Let Me Love You." In 2017, Bieber was featured on a Grammy-nominated remix of the global reggaeton-pop hit "Despacito" by Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee, marking the first time he sang in Spanish. That same month, he notched back-to-back number ones when the DJ Khaled collaboration "I'm the One" preceded "Despacito" at the top of the U.S. Hot 100. Other hits as a featured artist, such as David Guetta's "2U," Khaled's "No Brainer," Ed Sheeran's "I Don't Care," and Dan + Shay's "10,000 Hours," kept Bieber's profile high as he worked toward his next album. Also preceded by the first installments of his Seasons documentary and the headlining singles "Yummy" and "Intentions" (eventual Top Ten hits in Canada and the U.S.), Changes arrived in February 2020 and entered the Billboard 200 at number one. During the next couple months, material from Changes was divided into a series of loosely themed five-track EPs (such as R&Bieber and Biebs and Chill). ~ Matt Collar & Andy Kellman
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