Since the original Bieber Fever days when one hair flip was all it took to make hoards of girls around the world completely lose it, Justin Bieber hasn’t exactly been viewed as a true artist in the eyes of anyone over the age of, say, 17.
So after more than three years without putting out an official LP, Bieber’s “comeback” to music was more important than ever when he dropped “What Do You Mean” in August 2015 and the subsequent album Purpose months later. The immediate commercial and critic success Purpose received set the tone for what was to come: Three hit singles, an impressive world tour and the recognition he’s been working hard to earn in the shadow of his hair-flipping beginnings.
Needless to say, 2016 was a pretty monumental year for Bieber, allowing him to establish himself as the artist he’s been searching for through the “One Time,” “Baby” and “As Long As You Love Me” attempts.
Relive Bieber’s big year with some of his most noteworthy moments below.
He won his first Grammy
After getting a taste of what it feels like to be nominated for a Grammy in 2011 (he was up for Best Pop Vocal Album [My World 2.0] and Best New Artist), Bieber’s hopes for the prestigious award came to fruition thanks to the mastermind EDM team of Diplo and Skrillex. Their collaboration “Where Are U Now” took home the hardware for Best Dance Recording, and Bieber promised his first Grammy wouldn’t be his last (more on that later).
To commemorate the occasion, Bieber also hitched a ride home with James Corden for a special post-Grammys Carpool Karaoke.
He earned his third No. 1 song in a row
In the nearly six years Bieber had been around before releasing “What Do You Mean,” the closest he got to the pinnacle spot on the Billboard Hot 100 was the bittersweet No. 2 with 2012’s “Boyfriend.” Thanks to the booming success of “WDYM,” though, debuted at No. 1 in Sept. 2015 — but Bieber was hardly finished topping the chart.
Bieber’s next single, “Sorry,” eventually made it to the top spot in early 2016, spending three weeks at the peak until it was replaced — by Bieber himself. “Love Yourself,” the third Purpose single, took over the reigning position on Feb. 13, marking Bieber’s third straight No. 1.
He became the first artist to reach 10 billion views on YouTube
With the Purpose tracks flying high, the videos continued to rack up the views as well, accumulating 4 billion from September 2015 through late March this year. Add that to the past vids that tweens watch on repeat and 10 billion was achieved before you knew it. Bieber officially broke the 10 million threshold on March 24.
The Bieber video watching stayed strong in the following months, and he became the first artist to have three videos reach the one billion mark in May. (If you think all of this sounds crazy, let’s not forget that he reached one billion views on “Baby” two years ago.)
He deleted Instagram (and later called it the devil)
The Biebs fueled his own romance rumors with posts that included speculated girlfriend, model (and Lionel Richie’s daughter) Sofia Richie. Fans attacked Richie in the comments section, and after putting up with Internet trolls for years Bieber had enough. But because Bieber can do nothing secretly anymore, he publicly revealed that he’s no longer on Instagram. In an interview months later, Bieber elaborated on his decision by declaring that “Instagram is for the devil.”
He released “Cold Water,” earning the record for most No. 2 debuts
Teaming up with his buddy Diplo once again, the pair brought yet another jam to the world with their sans-Skrillex collaboration and had fans everywhere going bananas every time it’d come on. The song resonated beyond the dance floor, though, and soared to No. 2 in its first week, which marked the Biebs’ third debut in the second spot and surpassed Mariah Carey.
He set 8 Guinness World Records
Because YouTube and Billboard Chart records aren’t enough, Bieber was also announced as a world record breaker for eight different Guinness World Records. He earned accolades for most stream track and album on Spotify in one week, as well as the most Twitter followers and YouTube subscribers. See the full breakdown here.
He broke down on stage…multiple times
After sobbing at the finish of his 2015 MTV Video Music Awards performance of “WDYM,” Bieber’s tears continued to flow as he began his Purpose tour in 2016, particularly when he sings the heartfelt title track.
It would tend to happen so often that Bieber’s onstage cries endured some mockery from the media and those who weren’t die-hards — but there’s an element of authenticity when Bieber sheds a tear or two in front of thousands of fans, displaying how vulnerable the sometimes bad-boy Biebs can be and letting his fans know how appreciative he is of everything they’ve given him.
He announced his first-ever stadium tour dates…and that he’s very single
Even with all of the arenas Bieber has managed to sell out, believe it or not the 22-year-old singer had yet to play his own stadium show. So in the midst of his well-deserved break after nine months on the road, Bieber decided his pending South American and European dates for 2017 weren’t enough — he announced a seven-date stadium tour on The Ellen DeGeneres Show on Dec. 5.
But before heading out on the road again, Bieber wanted to make one thing very clear: He’s on the market.
He ended the year with four Grammy noms
The cherry on top to the sundae of a year Bieber had, the academy honored his hard work and success with four Grammy nominations for Best Pop Vocal Album, Best Pop Solo Performance (“Love Yourself”), as well as marquee awards Album of the Year and Song of the Year (“Love Yourself”). While some of his fellow nominees took to social media to freak out over their nods, Bieber played it cool.
— Justin Bieber (@justinbieber) December 7, 2016