NEW YORK • Justin Bieber on Thursday broke the record for the biggest first week on streaming service Spotify, proving the star's enduring popularity despite his slew of controversies.
The 21-year-old's What Do You Mean?, a song about indecision set over a mellow dance-club beat, has been streamed more than 21 million times globally since its Aug 28 release, Spotify said. It said the figure, which looked at only the first five days, already accounted for a first-week record. The previous record, at 20 million streams, was set last month by boyband One Direction for Drag Me Down.
Bieber broke down in tears at Sunday's MTV Video Music Awards show after singing What Do You Mean?.
On Wednesday, he told talk show host Jimmy Fallon on The Tonight Show that the sobs were authentic. "Honestly, I wasn't expecting them to support me in the way they did. Last time I was at an award show, I was booed," he said, referring to the Billboard Music Awards in 2013.
He is back on the promotional trail ahead of the fall release of his first album of new material in three years, most of which were marked by bad behaviour offstage and a string of court cases that risked damaging his image as a familyfriendly teen heart-throb.
He said in January that he was aiming to shed the "arrogant"and "conceited" attitude that led to arrests for careless driving, pelting a neighbour's home with eggs, assaulting a photographer and abandoning a pet monkey at an airport.
"I just had a bunch of knuckleheads around me," he told Fallon of his wild child period. "That was pretty much it. You have to figure out what you're okay with and what you're not okay with, but you have to test the waters. I just happen to be in front of the spotlight and they caught all those moments."
In the first of week-long promotions on NBC's Today show on Thursday, his work with the Make-A-Wish Foundation was highlighted in interviews with two young female fans who had personal meetings with him when they were seriously ill.
What Do You Mean? is to appear on his album, which is slated for release on Nov 13. He has been working on it with DJ Skrillex, rap star Kanye West and producer Rick Rubin, an early champion of hip-hop.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS