The 2015 MTV Video Music Awards are a time of great merriment, great excitement, and great Miley Cyrus shenanigans. However, Beliebers were looking forward to the ceremony for an entirely different reason, because Justin Bieber performed "What Do You Mean" for the first time at the 2015 VMAs, after debuting the single with a lyric video the Friday before. Considering Bieber's immense fan base have been waiting for this song — and his next album — for months to actual years, there has been renewed interest in the Biebs and his musical talent both in and out of the Belieber fan base. After all, the song comes after Bieber's "Apology Tour" that took him from the Ellen DeGeneres Show to the Comedy Central Roast with repeated insistences that he's a changed man. But what did we learn from Bieber's "What Do You Mean" VMA performance?
Well, for one thing, we learned that Bieber still knows how to put on an amazing show. Of course, that's something even the staunchest anti-Belieber had to admit prior to this point, because the 21-year-old is immensely talented and knows what the fans want. The show that he put on Sunday night was filled with everything that fans have been missing for months: Bieber dancing, Bieber singing, and lots of fake smoke. He started out with a rendition of "Where Are Ü Now," a song by Skrillex and Diplo to which Bieber contributed his vocals, before immediately moving into "What Do You Mean." The stage was lit up with lights that made it seem as if it was raining upward, the lights flashing in time to the tropical backbeat of the song.
Then, in the most majestic moment of the night, Bieber interrupted the song for one hell of a monologue that he gave while floating off the ground. And, just in case you were doubting his sincerity, Bieber ended the performance by breaking down into tears, leaving even Miley Cyrus momentarily speechless. He said:
"Life is a journey. Sometimes we battle, full of the unexpected. Sometimes we focus on our destination and forget to focus on that journey. But when we fall, it allows you to get up stronger. It allows you not to focus on your own understanding. Give in to faith. Believe in something bigger than yourself, and find your purpose."
All right, Bieber, even I have to say it now: you've come a long way, and that performance was both inspiring and epic. Just when I think I have Justin Bieber figured out, he manages to surprise me, and that's definitely what he did with this performance. If you want to take any kind of meaning from his performance, it's that the Biebs is back, and he's an artist that we'll be paying attention to for more than just what trouble he gets into in his personal life. He's an artist that we'll be paying attention to because we respect him. And he's earned that back.