Justin Bieber explained the emotional stakes preempting his performance at the Video Music Awards last Sunday, as well as its teary end during an earnest interview with Jimmy Fallon on The Tonight Show Wednesday.
“It was so overwhelming for me, everything, the performance,” Bieber said. “I missed some cues so I was a little disappointed with that… and I just wasn’t expecting them to support me the way they did. Last time I was at an awards show, I was booed.”
Bieber performed at the VMAs for the first time in five years, delivering a one-two punch comprising his Jack Ü collaboration “Where Are Ü Now” and new single “What Do You Mean?” Along with a dazzling light show and slick choreography, Bieber was hoisted into the air by a harness and sent flying above the crowd; when he landed, he knelt and visibly wept.
“I’ve worked so hard at this album, I’ve worked so hard at becoming the man I want to become, and then stepping into situations [like that], you can’t help but feel judged,” Bieber continued. “So I was feeling judged and wanting to win so badly, and wanting to do what I love so badly, that I just put everything on the line. And I think that was what was so special about the emotional moment at the end — it was authentic, it was real, I was really wanting it so bad.”
“Plus your junk was being pulled by the harness,” Fallon cracked, easing the tension.
Bieber also stuck around for a performance of “What Do You Mean?” linking up with the Roots, who breezed through the the track’s silky Eighties pop production. Bieber, in turn, busted out some slick moves during his passionate performance, which also boasted a surprise guest verse from Black Thought.
“What Do You Mean?” will appear on Bieber’s upcoming, as-yet-untitled new album, which — he revealed on Tonight — arrives November 13th.
Bieber also made sure to have some fun during his Tonight Show appearance: Elsewhere, he took on Questlove in a rematch of their 2010 drum-off, and gamely offered personal details about himself to be rapped by Black Thought during “Freestylin’ with The Roots.”