It's safe to say that Justin Bieber has packed a lot of living into his almost-20 years on this earth; he got his start posting covers of Ne-Yo and Aretha Franklin to YouTube, and his star ascended far and fast – for better or worse, given his recent legal troubles. Here's a look back at some of his life's biggest moments. Find out more about our new cover story, Justin Bieber: Bad Boy, here. By Maura Johnston
Justin Drew Bieber is born to Pattie Mallette in Stratford, Ontario, Canada. The Number One song on Canada's pop chart that week: Ace of Base's "The Sign."
"kidrauhl" joins YouTube, and Bieber's mother Pattie uses the account to post videos of her son singing and playing music. (The username is a nod to Justin's dad, Jeremy, who posted in online forums as "lordrauhl.") His repertoire leans heavily toward R&B – in 2010 he told Rolling Stone that his mother played "a lot of Boyz II Men," Michael Jackson and Tracy Chapman for him while he was growing up – and the videos also showcase his impressive prowess on the drums. The clips eventually grab the attention of manager Scooter Braun, who flies Justin and his mother to Atlanta as a client pitch.
Bieber's debut single "One Time," which counts The-Dream and "Tricky" Stewart among its masterminds, is released to radio. The song makes a slow climb up the charts, eventually peaking at Number 17 on the Hot 100. The video's plot has Bieber agreeing to house-sit for his pal Usher and seizing the opportunity to throw a party, a bit of tomfoolery that would serve as a lighthearted portent for later events.
My World, Bieber's debut EP, is released; RS' Rob Sheffield compares Bieber's voice to "Joey Mclntyre getting savagely beaten by the Auto-Tune police."
A week before Bieber's proper first album My World 2.0 hits stores, the singer announces his first worldwide concert tour, also named "My World." The 130-date, eight-leg tour will stretch from June 2010 to October 2011, with the August 31st, 2010, show at New York's Madison Square Garden filmed. Meanwhile, My World 2.0, released on March 19th, debuts at Number One after selling 283,000 copies in its first week; it spawns singles like the sweetly poppy, Ludacris-assisted "Baby" and the pumping "Somebody to Love."
Bieber's first movie, the documentary-slash-concert film Never Say Never, is released on the 11th; its 3-D aspects are used to particularly impressive effect during a scene in which Bieber tosses his feathery locks toward the audience. Two days later, Bieber loses the Best New Artist Grammy to Esperanza Spalding, causing irate Beliebers to hijack her Wikipedia page as revenge. After the online dust clears, a Rolling Stone interview makes waves thanks to Bieber claiming a pro-abstinence stance and stammering through an answer on abortion in which he says "everything happens for a reason" – including rape. Bieber admits to the press that he's dating the Disney star Selena Gomez, a relationship that will last roughly through the end of 2012. The whirlwind month is capped off by Bieber switching up his notoriously floppy hairstyle while on the set of a music video with Rascal Flatts; he calls his new 'do "kind of a mature look."
"Boyfriend," the breathy, Timberlakian lead single from Bieber's second full-length Believe, debuts at Number Two on the Hot 100 on the strength of 521,000 digital download sales – Bieber's highest chart peak and will remain so through the rest of his career. The Mike Posner-penned track has Bieber showing off his deeper voice and loverman side, singing about "chillin by the fire while we eatin' fondue" and indulging his falsetto.
Believe, Bieber's second album, is released. The album is an aggressive shift toward mature R&B for the young singer; producers include Diplo, Hit-Boy and Rodney Jerkins, while Nicki Minaj and Drake are among the featured artists. The lyrical content is also a bit of a leap; the bonus track "Maria" is a fairly explicit rebuke to Mariah Yeater, a fan who accused Bieber of fathering her child in an encounter that doubled as the singer's deflowering. (Yeater later dropped the charges.) The album sells 374,000 copies in its first week and debuts at Number One on the Billboard 200. In January 2013 Bieber releases Believe Acoustic, which contains stripped-down versions of selected Believe tracks.
The Believe Tour's inaugural stop in Glendale, Arizona, has a sick beginning – and not sick in the good way. During the show, Bieber throws up three times, and even horks onstage at one point. After the show, he tweets "And …. Milk was a bad choice! Lol," thus keeping himself two steps ahead of the snark-filled masses ready to explain the exact physiological effects of Bieber fever.
Bieber's month starts off poorly, with his 19th birthday party in London turning into what he deems his "worst birthday" thanks to underage members of his entourage being turned away by the club Cirque du Soir. The following Monday, he irks fans and parents in attendance at London's O2 Arena by arriving on stage 90 minutes late; a few days later, at another O2 show, he collapses onstage and is given oxygen to finish out his set's final four songs. After the show he is hospitalized. To close the month out, a capuchin monkey that was part of Bieber's entourage is seized by the German government over a paperwork dispute. The monkey, Mally, is eventually released in a wildlife park where it's set to start a new life with other animals of its ilk; meanwhile, Bieber still owes about $11,000 for primate housing costs.
TMZ posts a video of the Biebs relieving himself into a restaurant's mop bucket while his friends (who refer to themselves as the "Wild Kidz") hoot and laugh, with one of them even declaring that the place should be honored to receive the teen idol's urine. (Would that make the people who work there pee-liebers?). Before the clip ends, Bieber takes time out to yell "Fuck Bill Clinton," perhaps because of long-simmering tensions over NAFTA. (He apologizes to the former president shortly after the video hits the web.)
Bieber releases Journals, a compilation culled from a weekly series of new songs called #MusicMondays. The tracks – which include collaborations with Lil Wayne, Chance the Rapper and Future – are a logical step forward from the R&B of Believe, with moody, sparse instrumentation and mature lyrics. iTunes does not release sales figures for the album to SoundScan, and as a result the record does not chart. The day after its release – Christmas Eve – Bieber tweets that he's "officially retiring," throwing Twitter into chaos; about 40 minutes later he semi-retracts the statement, heaping disdain on the media and reminding anyone reading that "being a belieber [sic] is a lifestyle." On Christmas his second movie, Believe, is released; it gets trounced at the box office by The Hobbit and The Wolf of Wall Street.
The year opens on a high note, with Bieber and longtime flame Selena Gomez tooling around on Segways and popping up on Instagram together. But things get lousy fast: Bieber and his friends are accused of throwing eggs at a nearby house in his Calabasas, California, neighborhood, and on the 14th the Los Angeles County sheriff's department issues a felony search warrant for Bieber's house to search for evidence that the eggs were, in fact, owned by the pop star. One of Bieber's house guests (the MC Lil Za) is arrested for drug possession. A few weeks later, Bieber is arrested during a late-night joyride in Miami and charged with drunk driving, resisting arrest and driving without a valid license; his chipper mug shot is instantly hijacked by online users for hilarious-meme purposes, while the police report asserts that he was under the influence of alcohol, marijuana and Xanax. A petition to send the Canadian singer back to the Great White North is started online and its signee totals quickly reach the six-figure mark. On the 29th, Bieber turns himself in at a Toronto police station and is charged with assaulting a limousine driver in late 2013; he's scheduled to appear in court on March 10th.
Two days after Bieber releases the brooding "Broken" ("I guess they want a reaction/I ain't gonna give it to 'em/They're trying to get at me, yeah/But I ain't gonna feed into it"), the video for "Baby" breaks the billion-view mark on the streaming-video service Vevo, thanks to a strenuous campaign by Beliebers who wanted to see their hero's signature clip reach that milestone before he closed out his teenage years. "'Baby' premiered across Vevo in February 2010, just two months after our platform launched," Vevo senior vice president of content Doug McVehil told Billboard. "We really feel like Vevo and Justin have grown together."