Was Justin Bieber’s performance at Billboard’s first-ever Hot 100 Festival perfect? No. He seemed to forget the words to his songs a few times—but what artist hasn’t?—and appeared visibly agitated at the Nikon at Jones Beach Theater’s lighting and sound setups. Oh, and he ordered fans to stop taking photos of him at one point in the show. Throw in a confusing hoodie situation (Was it supposed to be on or off, bb?), bizarre skateboarding tangent and cruel teasing of his new music—he asked the audience if they wanted to hear his fresh tunes, but then said they’d have to wait like everyone else—and it appears the hour-plus set wasn’t too hot. But it actually was.
Because Justin Bieber is talented as hell—a fact many people tend to forget. (He’s also physically hot, which explains the show’s—ya know—hotness.)
We’re serious. If you cut through the eye-rolling diva behavior and sloppier edges from last night, Justin delivered a perfectly enjoyable romp that reminded us of two very crucial facts: The boy can sing and dance his ass off.
Let’s talk about the last one first. Justin didn’t exactly move with the razor precision of his fellow festival performer Jason Derulo, but he had an inexplicable swagger that made him captivating to watch. Whether it was the feverish running man move during “Beauty and the Beat” or the robotic hand vogueing employed later in the set, Mr. Bieber knew how to use his heavily-tattooed body in ways that both intrigued and, well, turned us on. And he had a blast doing it.
Justin’s voice is what really stole the show, especially during the unplugged section. (With just one guitarist and minimal lighting, Justin glided through three of his slow jams, including “Hold Tight.”) His robust and raspy falsetto was in full force and barely faltered, if at all. Seriously, the teeny-boppers in the audience went bonkers any time Justin held a note longer than seven seconds. And we don’t blame them. It was damn impressive.
His flashy finale number “Where Are Ü Now” with Skrillex was exciting, of course. We can’t lie, though: It was a letdown to any fan hoping for a taste of new JBiebs tracks. (And that was everyone in the friggin’ theater, essentially—this writer included.)
Last night’s presentation of strictly old tunes, including “As Long As You Love Me” and “Boyfriend,” may inform us of music to come more than we think. His attitude during the set’s mellower moments revealed the Justin Bieber we’ve been waiting for: open, vulnerable and searing. Could this new album be just as raw and personal? We certainly hope so.
If we are certain of one thing after Sunday night, it’s this: Our boy still has it—in abundance. And haters can definitely sit down after watching Justin slay both vocally and physically. That’s not to say the set’s, erm, unrefined moments are excusable. They’re not, and he needs to get them under control. (Seriously, bro, learn your lyrics!)
But his natural talent did outshine the bulls—t, which also tells us something important: Justin is coming back with a vengeance. Get ready.