At 21 years old, Justin Bieber has an impressive resume as a live performer. His first world tour had the young star playing sold-out arenas at age 16; this year, he's bigger than ever after his latest album, Purpose, produced three Number One singles. Before he takes the stage at the Grammys next week, take a look back at some of Bieber's best televised performances at the Grammys and other awards shows.
Bieber couldn't make it in person to the 2010 Teen Choice Awards – his first ever – so the show came to him. While performing on the Phoenix stop of his My World tour, Bieber and a screaming arena of his fans were greeted by Shaquille O'Neal, a TCA surfboard trophy and an incredible height difference. He won four awards that year, including Choice Male Artist, which left him "smiling" enough to perform his single "U Smile." Always a charming performer, the 16-year-old Bieber had his live audience and the television viewers in the palm of his hands while crooning the romantic track.
Biebz attended his first VMAs as a presenter in 2009, but by the following year's ceremony, he was the world's biggest male pop star and was well aware of that power. He showed up with a Beatle-esque flair, hopping out of a red Corvette in dark shades and a letterman jacket to a crowd of screaming girls who chased him to the outdoor stage. Backed by a crew of male dancers in matching cardigans as well as a steady stream of teenage screams, the pop savant performed not just one hit but a medley of three. A "U Smile" intro transitioned into "Baby," then "Somebody to Love." For the performance of the latter, a tiny Bieber was joined by an even tinier crew of dancers. He even performed a drum solo for a sleek, star-making turn.
The ever-stylish Willow Smith introduced Bieber by describing him as someone who is "like my big brother." After a series of big productions for his previous award show appearances, Bieber took to a piano for a performance of "Pray," a song co-written by Nasri, who would later form the reggae-pop group Magic! For this performance, it was all about Bieber the vocalist, even when his young voice cracked a bit. But he couldn't help but show off his performer flair in front of a gospel choir and a screen flashing various religious symbols.
Bieber's first year as a Grammy nominee was in 2011, when he was nominated for two awards – including Best New Artist, against fellow Canadian and future collaborator Drake – but lost both. That doesn't mean that he didn't bring some drama and emotional power to a lengthy performance dedicated to his quick journey to stardom. Before he was shown on stage, viewers saw a grainy clip of Bieber's 2007 audition for mentor Usher in which he sang the latter's hit "U Got It Bad." The camera moved to the dark stage, where Bieber sat with a guitar as Usher walked up to him, laughing, and the pair performed a bit of totally-not-creepy, Karate Kid-ish dialogue that ended with Usher saying, "Now's your time, let's go" before walking off. The teenage performer then did an acoustic rendition of "Baby" before transitioning into a massive production for "Never Say Never," complete with samurai drummers and Jaden Smith. Usher returned to sing his current hit "OMG," which Bieber hopped on for the last few minutes with a flourish.
Eighteen-year-old Justin Bieber was more than ready to shed his teen-pop history and embark on becoming the biggest solo male artist of his generation. At the TCAs in 2012, he gave a literally electrifying performance of his Believe single "Boyfriend" that had him popping and locking his way out of electrical wires while clad in all-silver and flanked by a crew of female dancers instead of his usual male crew. He also instituted his now regular MJ crotch-grab throwback. Bieber transitioned to a similarly futuristic take on "As Long As You Love Me" and was joined on-stage by rapper Big Sean, who was in the midst of his breakthrough year as Kanye West's protégé.
Bieber pulled his classic performance move of beginning with an acoustic take on a more upbeat hit before launching into a party-like performance at the 2012 AMAs. After being introduced by his friend Carly Rae Jepsen, Biebz slowed down "As Long As You Love Me" – again including Big Sean's rap verse – before demanding that the audience get out of their seats before launching into a more dynamic, over-the-top take on "Beauty and a Beat," complete with a set covered in boomboxes and his name projected in cartoonish graffiti behind him. He invited Nicki Minaj on stage and got a little flirtatious as they sang and pantomimed grinding.
Canada gave a warm welcome home to Bieber at the MMVAs in 2012, a year in which he reached even more unprecedented heights with his career. His performance of Believe singles "All Around the World" and "Boyfriend" were celebratory and came complete with confetti, a crying fan and one pink bra thrown on to the stage and left at the teenage pop star's feet as he danced through the pair of songs.
The biggest predictor of Bieber's very grown but also brief Journals era was the Believe track "Take You," a sexy R&B slow-burner that he performed at the BBMAs a year after releasing the album and at the beginning of his most controversial era – a time which would later include an arrest and many, many apologies. For one of his most mature award show appearances yet, Bieber entered the stage clad in leather and from a spaceship-like structure. He was surrounded by a team of goth flight attendant dancers for a travel-themed performance that let him show off a more sultry side of him. At the same ceremony, he also joined Will.I.Am for their collaboration "#ThatPower" and accepted one of the first ever Milestone Award – during which he was booed.
Bieber reemerged in 2015 an apologetic and regretful young man, having spent almost all of his 2014 making headlines for his bad behavior. He went on a mini-apology tour and let himself get roasted, but all the public needed was a hit song. At the VMAs, he performed the two tracks that put him not only back in the public's good graces but also made him a bigger, more mature star without gimmicks. He kept it simple and humble in a black t-shirt and trucker hat while performing his Jack Ü collaboration "Where Are Ü Now" and his own "What Do You Mean" with a group of back-up dancers and a bit of fire. While wrapping up the latter, a monologue about his "journey" and "faith" played over the dimmed stage as he was raised by a harness above a beam of light. Suddenly, the pop star broke down in tears in front of the audience amidst his live show comeback.
Bieber returned to his typical award show form for the 2015 AMAs, giving an acoustic version of "What Do You Mean" before launching into his Jack Ü collaboration. In a hoodie, ripped jeans and a trucker hat, he let his moves speak for themselves as the audience held up glowsticks. Afterwards, the rain came pouring down as he performed "Sorry" completely soaked and splashing through the stage puddles.