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Unlike the chart-toppers who graduated from "American Idol" (Fox, 2002- ) or the bubblegum pop stars groomed by the Disney Channel, Justin Bieber's talent and wholesome appeal was purely homemade. The Canadian singer became a worldwide sensation after teen girls discovered videos he had posted on YouTube.com where he performed pop and R&B cover songs. Singer and songwriter Usher took Bieber under his wing and mentored him all the way to becoming a pop phenomenon who not seen since a young Michael Jackson took center stage with The Jackson 5 some 40 years earlier, inciting similar preteen pandemonium. Bieber became the first solo artist in Billboard Hot 100 chart history with four songs in the Top 40 prior to the album's release. His debut album, My World (2009) went platinum within weeks, while the young singer entertained young and old with performances on everything from "Christmas in Washington" (TNT, 2009), where he sang for the President and First Lady, and at the 25th anniversary re-recording of "We Are the World" where Bieber took his rightful place next to the biggest names in the music industry. While topping the charts with Believe (2012) and its lead single "Boyfriend," Bieber quickly...
Unlike the chart-toppers who graduated from "American Idol" (Fox, 2002- ) or the bubblegum pop stars groomed by the Disney Channel, Justin Bieber's talent and wholesome appeal was purely homemade. The Canadian singer became a worldwide sensation after teen girls discovered videos he had posted on YouTube.com where he performed pop and R&B cover songs. Singer and songwriter Usher took Bieber under his wing and mentored him all the way to becoming a pop phenomenon who not seen since a young Michael Jackson took center stage with The Jackson 5 some 40 years earlier, inciting similar preteen pandemonium. Bieber became the first solo artist in Billboard Hot 100 chart history with four songs in the Top 40 prior to the album's release. His debut album, My World (2009) went platinum within weeks, while the young singer entertained young and old with performances on everything from "Christmas in Washington" (TNT, 2009), where he sang for the President and First Lady, and at the 25th anniversary re-recording of "We Are the World" where Bieber took his rightful place next to the biggest names in the music industry. While topping the charts with Believe (2012) and its lead single "Boyfriend," Bieber quickly became fodder for the tabloids, thanks to his rocky romance with Selena Gomez and numerous run-ins with trouble, all the while maintaining his place as one of the music industry's biggest teen stars whose "Belieber" fanbase seemed to grow stronger, larger and more intense with each passing year.
Justin Drew Bieber was born on March 1, 1994 in Stratford, Ontario, Canada. Raised by his single mother, Pattie Mallette, the future star was an avid hockey and soccer player, but amazingly taught himself how to play the piano, guitar, trumpet and drums. Bieber also dabbled in singing until age 12 when he got serious and entered a local talent competition. Though he only placed second, the experience provided the future star with the desire to entertain for a living. With his mother's help, Bieber began posting videos of himself on YouTube in 2007 where he covered songs by Stevie Wonder, Usher, Justin Timberlake and Ne-Yo. The videos were initially filmed so that out-of-town family and friends could watch Bieber's performances. The homemade videos started getting more and more views - mostly from teen girls who in Bieber, foresaw a future heartthrob - until they eventually caught the attention of various music industry insiders. One of these was Scooter Braun, former marketing executive for the record label So So Def Recordings.
Through his YouTube videos Braun saw Bieber's star potential and began managing his career. He flew his young client to Atlanta, GA for a meeting with singer, songwriter and actor Usher. Impressed by Bieber's natural talent and charm, the R&B star set up an audition for Antonio L.A. Reid, the Chairman and CEO of Island Def Jam Music Group. Another of Bieber's musical idols, former boy band member-turned-legitimate superstar artist Justin Timberlake met with the teen singer around the same time and was interested in signing him to his record label, as well. A bidding war reportedly ensued between the two camps until Bieber eventually chose Usher as a mentor and signed with Island Records. Even though they kept their home in Stratford, the singer and his mother moved to Atlanta to start working on his debut album. Bieber's YouTube videos were still receiving millions of views without there being a single or music video in rotation anywhere. However, MTV invited Bieber to be a presenter at the "2009 Video Music Awards," which boosted his mainstream exposure.
Bieber's up-tempo single "One Time," released in July 2009, reached the Top 20 on Billboard's Hot 100 charts. His following three singles - "One Less Lonely Girl," "Love Me," and "Favorite Girl" were all released within two months and sold exclusively on digital music giant iTunes. The barrage of hits only boosted Bieber's profile and earned him a place in Billboard history. The Canadian singer became the first solo artist to enter the Top 40 of the Hot 100 charts before an album's release. On Nov. 17, 2009, Bieber's debut album, My World was finally released. That same day, the singer treated his fans to a free concert at Universal Citywalk in Hollywood. Hundreds of squealing teenagers flocked to catch a glimpse of Bieber performing songs off My World, including the hit single "One Time." The record label also included special "golden tickets" in a few copies of the album which guaranteed the lucky winners various prizes - from a walk-on role in a Bieber music video to a private concert with the teen heartthrob. The singer's brand of urban pop - inspired by the musical styles of his mentor Usher and idol Timberlake - helped the album reach platinum sales both in the U.S. and his home country. That same month, Bieber took the United Kingdom by storm when he opened for Taylor Swift's sold-out concerts in London.
However, not all of Bieber's public appearances worked out as smoothly as his team had planned. In November 2009, thousands of fans showed up to Roosevelt Field Mall in Long Island, NY for a "meet-and-greet" with the singer. While waiting for his arrival, the crowd of over 3,000 crammed inside the shopping center and the situation careened quickly out of control. Some young fans were reportedly injured and hospitalized as local police units were called in to handle the mob of excited teens and angry parents. Authorities banned Bieber from entering the building and arrested Island Records senior vice president James A. Roppo for getting in the way of the police. The singer encouraged fans to go home after finding out about the cancellation and apologized for the situation via the social networking site Twitter.com. Roppo later pleaded not guilty to all charges.
The unfortunate incident in Long Island did little to hurt Bieber's career nor his status as a teen sensation. The singer's wholesome appeal propelled him all the way to the White House for the TNT holiday special, "Christmas in Washington." Bieber performed the classic tune "Someday at Christmas" for a highly esteemed audience that included President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama. A few days later, the young star rang in the New Year as a performer at "Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve with Ryan Seacrest" (ABC, 2009). In January 2010, Bieber made his debut on music's biggest night, where he introduced Bon Jovi's performance at the "52nd annual Grammy Awards" (CBS). The day after the Grammys, he joined some of the most legendary names in music - including Celine Dion, Kanye West and Barbra Streisand - for a remake of the 1985 hit "We Are the World." The track was re-recorded by contemporary artists as well as some of those involved with the original recording to celebrate its 25th anniversary and to raise money for victims of a devastating 7.0-magnitude earthquake that had hit Haiti earlier that month. The music video for the 2010 version of "We Are the World" debuted during the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics (NBC, 2010). Reviews for Bieber's inclusion in the song and video were mixed. True music lovers were appalled; the Clearasil crowd was clearly pleased.
In March 2010, My World 2.0 - the second part of Bieber's LP debut - was released. The album's lead single, "Baby," a melodic collaboration between the young singer and rapper Ludacris, stormed the charts. The duo united on stage to perform "Baby" during the televised concert "SOS Saving Ourselves: Help for Haiti" (BET, 2010), which also benefited relief efforts for the Haiti earthquake. That same year, Bieber made his film debut in the made-for-television feature, "School Gyrls" (Nickelodeon), making a cameo in the Nick Cannon-directed movie about a real-life girl group, and even landed two guest spots as a fictional character on the crime procedural "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" (CBS, 2000- ). After releasing My Worlds Acoustic (2010), Bieber was featured in the 3-D concert film, "Justin Bieber: Never Say Never" (2011), which took in a strong $98 million at the box office worldwide. Around this time, months of media speculation that he was dating Disney actress Selena Gomez were confirmed when the young twosome were spotted together at the 2011 Vanity Fair Oscar party. Something of a tween power couple, the pair were perpetually followed by the tabloid press which photographed and videotaped virtually their every move.
From there, Bieber released his second album, Under the Mistletoe (2011), a Christmas album that featured his take on a handful of Yuletide classics as well as a few originals. The album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard charts and went on to sell over a million copies. His next album, Believe (2011), marked a departure from his previous sound, with Bieber adopting heavier beats and more mature content. Despite a mixed critical reception for both the album and its popular lead single "Boyfriend," Believe again debuted at No. 1 and sold over one million units. But as his success was reaching new heights, Bieber began generating negative headlines in 2011 when he gave a photographer the middle finger outside his 17th birthday party, prompting a quick apology to fans via Twitter. Similar bird-flipping incidents occurred later in 2011 as well as the following year. In mid-2012, Bieber was in a physical confrontation with a photographer trying to take pictures of him and Gomez, while two months later he was pulled over on the Ventura Freeway in Los Angeles after being clocked by the California Highway Patrol doing in excess of 100 miles per hour. With city officials calling his actions reckless, Bieber claimed that he was trying to outrun a particularly aggressive paparazzo and later was charged with two misdemeanors.
As Bieber embarked on his "Believe" tour in September 2012, word emerged that he and Gomez were splitting after nearly two years of dating. Though they would reconcile briefly, the tween couple officially called it quits in January 2013. That was the same month Bieber had his most tragic paparazzi moment when photographer Chris Guerra was struck and killed by an oncoming car after racing across the street to take a picture of the star inside his vehicle. Bieber was not inside the car at the time. Following a notable appearance on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" (syndicated, 2003- ), Bieber was both the host and musical guest of a February 2013 episode of "Saturday Night Live" (NBC, 1975- ). Meanwhile, things went from bad to worse when he was caught allegedly smoking a blunt with rapper Lil Twist - a man many close to Bieber believed to be a negative influence on the teen - outside a Newport Beach, CA hotel room in early January 2013. The so-called Bieber pot scandal sparked a blazing media storm as the artist vaguely apologized on Twitter yet again. Two months later while on tour in London, he lunged at a photographer while yelling obscenities, requiring his security detail to physically restrain him. The incident came after a rough patch that saw Bieber fainting backstage at the O2 Arena and later showing up two hours late for another performance.
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