A simple look at social media on Monday morning will show you that the 2015 VMAs were a cocktail of all sorts of craziness this year, but one moment in particular has captivated the hearts and minds of many. Well, OK, multiple moments, but one in particular stands out to me. Sunday night Justin Bieber cried on the VMAs stage following a performance of "What Do You Mean." This display of emotion is, like Bieber himself, a divisive move, with people lauding it as a sign of his artistry or fake, fake fake. But, for me, I don't see the big deal, since historically singers have been crying on stage forever.
OK, to be fair, I'm not super huge on pop stars to begin with, and you can't get through my record collection without a bottle of Lexapro at the ready. My music is conducive to crying, and, in this scenario, it feels as though the pressure of being Bieber has caught up with him or something. Context is important, and it's that Bieber-ness that makes this more shocking than if it was, say, my BFF Morrissey.
Still, I can tell you right now that he isn't the first person to be publicly overwhelmed in this way. So let's look back at all your other faves who have been moved to tears on stage.
Miley Cyrus — "Wrecking Ball"
Miley, what's good? Cyrus got extra worked up during a performance of "Wrecking Ball" in 2013 at the iHeartradio Music Festival. It's understandable though; this rendition of the break-up ballad was done recently after her split with Liam Hemsworth. Which I have sympathy for, because, if you lost a Hemsworth, you'd be a mess, too.
Lady Gaga — "Edge Of Glory"
Gaga got emotional during a slowed down rendition of "Edge Of Glory," and it is, in a word, glorious. This wasn't the only time she got all teary while performing, though. Remember the YouTube Music Awards? Me neither, but our girl gave an explosively weepy take on "Dope."
Lana Del Rey — "Video Games"
Lana Del Rey crying? What a shocker. But, honestly, I adore this rendition of "Video Games" in Dublin, because it somehow feels like Del Rey's tears both reinforce her persona while somehow breaking character. Her speech is monotone, but, when her fans start cheering her on and singing, she really lets loose. So sweet.
Ariana Grande — "Honeymoon Avenue"
From my understanding, Grande has a deep connection with "Honeymoon Avenue" that particularly gets to her. Grande told MTV it was about "knowing you are at the end of a relationship and wishing it could not be the end and go back to the beginning and start over." Them feels. Plus, she was rumored to be going through a pretty messy break up at the time, so the song hit a little too close to home.
Kanye West — "Hey Mama"
Well, this is interesting. Future President West started crying during a performance of "Hey Mama" at Summerfest a few years back. The track is an ode to West's late mother Donda West, who died of complications back in 2007, and, clearly, her memory still lives on in this and many of his songs.
Adele — "Someone Like You"
All right, it's unsurprising that Adele's "Someone Like You" makes her cry, because it makes you, me, and my mom cry EVERY TIME IT PLAYS. In any case, this performance at the Royal Albert Theater is particularly stirring.
Selena Gomez — "Love Will Remember"
And it all comes full circle: rumor has it that "Love Will Remember" is allegedly about Gomez's ex, one Mr. Justin Bieber. Not that it would be the first time she sang a song that was rumored to be about him.
This is just skimming off the top, but, suffice to say, Bieber's break down is still baffling because of the inexplicable "why" behind it but, ultimately, unsurprising because sometimes artists just have a lot of feelings. So, for now, all we can do is speculate, pass the tissues, and wish we could be the one to give the Biebs a hug.