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Justin Bieber Sobs at MTV VMAs; Cynical Ploy or Heartfelt Emotions?

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Justin Bieber breaks down at the MTV Video Music Awards after singing his new song. Was he sincere or cynical? (Photo: ScreenCap)

Justin Bieber breaks down at the MTV Video Music Awards after singing his new song. Was he sincere or cynical? (Photo: ScreenCap)

Justin Bieber returned to the MTV Music Video Awards with a cold open leading to his performance of new single “What Do You Mean?” But he left a hot mess, sobbing uncontrollably at the end of the song. Was it heartfelt emotion or a cynical play for sympathy?

Bieber has been on a roller coaster ride over the past 18 months, no question about that.

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He went from teen heartthrob to polarizing figure because of a string of incidents involving loutish behavior and several arrests and a series of violent outbursts.

He’s been on the comeback trail since last January. He appeared on the Ellen DeGeneres show, followed by a humbling apology on Facebook. He swore he was “not the person he was pretending to be.”

While his last two singles, including “What Do You Mean?” have been well received, the big test will come when his upcoming album debuts in November. If it flops, his career will be effectively over.

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As such, Bieber had a lot riding on his MTV VMA performance tonight (Aug. 30).

He began with a performance of “Where Are U Now,” the first single off his album. Then, he segued into “What Do You Mean?” He released the song last Friday (Aug. 28). It’s soared on iTunes and streaming music sites.

The emotional scene was set when a voiceover from Bieber began. He talked about how “life is a journey” and “when you fall it allows you to get up.” It was a pointed reference to his many travails over the past 20 months.

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At the end of his performance, after flying over the crowd, Bieber put his hands over his face and began sobbing uncontrollably.

If Bieber set out to win over the audience he scored. The crowd cheer wildly in an emotional response, a sign he may still be able to salvage his career.

The official music video for “What Do You Mean” is expected to drop later tonight.

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The performance was Bieber’s first at the VMAs since 2010. Back then, he sang a medley of “Baby,” “Somebody to Love” and “U Smile.”

Check it out below and his emotional breakdown at the end of the song. Let us know your thoughts and be sure to follow IM on Twitter for the latest music news.

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