Justin Bieber Is Not Always Feeling Loved

Justin Bieber, the Canadian singer whose fresh-faced good looks and appealing pop songs sparked a global craze beginning in 2009, is not afraid to tell you that he’s not always feeling loved. That’s why, he says, he spends so much time talking to kids and writing inspirational messages on Instagram. “I think it’s my way of trying to reach out and help them and be a good role model,” he said.

Since posting covers on YouTube in 2008, Bieber has sold over 150 million records worldwide and appeared in three documentary-style movies about his life. He has a clothing line called Drew House, his own television show and has become one of the world’s biggest concert draws. He even has a few Grammys under his belt and a new album that’s on the way.

He also has his own philanthropic foundation, the Purpose Fund, which helps young people overcome obstacles to pursue their dreams. And he’s a global ambassador for UNICEF, fighting to end child marriage and promote safe-sex education.

His music has shifted over the years, from the R&B-infused anthems of his 2010 debut, My World 2.0, to the more mature offerings on his 2015 comeback record, Purpose, and 2020 release, Changes. This latest LP is perhaps the most reflective of his growth as an artist, featuring collaborations with 2010s heavy hitters like EDM wizard Skrillex, electro-pop architect BloodPop, busker-turned-arena-headliner Ed Sheeran, and more. The soaring “Sorry,” which updates the guy-and-guitar setup Bieber used in his online-sensation days, shows how he’s been able to hark back musically to his youth while still singing about grownup relationship complexities.

Throughout all these changes, one thing has remained constant: the power of Bieber’s voice. It’s a beautiful, pure instrument that never feels forced or contrived, whether on the acoustic ballad “Recovery,” the acoustic-guitar-driven lead single from Journals, the soulful R&B of “Confident,” or the sweeping choruses of “Love Yourself.”

In the end, what brought Bieber back to center were two things: his faith and his marriage. The former gave him stability, a value system that wasn’t tied to his performance in exchange for money, and the latter was his source of comfort when he felt overwhelmed by fame and all its pressures. Now, in his mid-30s, he’s settled into a groove where he wants to serve others, in the best way he knows how. And he’s been able to do it all while retaining the integrity that made him such an appealing figure to begin with.