Justin Bieber kept things simple on “Saturday Night Live,” and his fans loved it.
Performing on the long-running comedy sketch show for his fourth time opposite host Issa Rae, Bieber presented a raw, stripped-back version of his song “Lonely” about the isolation of his childhood fame.
The pop singer, 26, skipped the traditional stage setup for his performance, choosing to start in a backstage dressing room eyeing his reflection in a mirror before wandering through the quiet, dimly lit halls of “SNL.”
Bieber released a music video for “Lonely” on Friday, starring 14-year-old “Room” actor Jacob Tremblay as a young Bieber and tackled the singer’s feelings about growing up in the limelight.
“Maybe when I’m older it’ll all calm down, but it’s killing me now / What if you had it all but nobody to call, maybe then you’d know me / Cause I’ve had everything, but no one’s listening, and that’s just oh so lonely,” Bieber sings. “Everybody knows my past now, like my house was always made of glass / Maybe that’s the price you pay for the money and fame at an early age.”
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Fans on social media praised Bieber’s stripped-back performance: “No auto tune, no backing vocalists, no overpowering instrumentals just raw emotions and vocals,” @festlvebieber wrote.
After a tumultuous few years growing up famous (he was just 13 when talent manager Scooter Braun discovered him on YouTube) Bieber has settled down recently: He’s now married to Hailey Baldwin and been honest with the world about the struggles with mental health and drug abuse he faced as a young man.
“I don’t normally listen (to) Justin Bieber, but tonight the song #Lonely was raw, so glad I didn’t change the channel, he really tried to get the listener to see it from his POV,” added @r_kendall.
“So proud tonight,” his manager Braun tweeted.
Earlier that night, Bieber also performed his new song “Holy” alongside Chance the Rapper, who is featured on the track. The song, which Bieber sang below a neon cross, makes references to Christianity that seemingly nod to the singer and his wife’s relationship and shared beliefs.
“That the way you hold me, hold me, hold me, hold me, hold me / Feels so holy, holy, holy, holy, holy / On God, runnin’ to the altar like a track star / Can’t wait another second,” Bieber sang.
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Justin Bieber details the dark side of child stardom: His new ‘Lonely’ video stars Jacob Tremblay