Justin Bieber delivered his first live television performance in nearly two-and-a-half years, but don't call it a comeback. Call it a cry-back instead.
The 21-year-old Canadian singer took the stage promptly at 10 p.m. ET on Sunday, with a short acoustic rendition of his Skrillex and Diplo collaboration, "Where Are U Now."
Surrounded by dancers, the Stratford native hit each step while clad in an all-black ensemble and matching baseball cap. Soon, he seamlessly began to perform his latest single "What Do You Mean?" to thunderous audience applause and audible cheers.
Before Bieber could complete his performance of the song, he began to recite some spoken word verses which included the lines: "Life is a journey, sometimes a battle" and "Believe in something bigger than yourself." It was at this moment — when he was lifted into the air and briefly flew over the crowd before landing back on the stage — that he broke into tears.
Though some Twitter users compared his aerial stunt to P!nk's “Blow Me (One Last Kiss)” VMA performance from 2012, it didn't detract from Bieber's raw emotion.
Bieber covered his face with his hands, bowed down to the floor and wiped his tears following the rendition of his latest song, to the surprise of the audience.
US Weekly reports VMA host Miley Cyrus later told the "Boyfriend" singer to "call her," referring to the past love he croons about in the single.
Bieber's mom, Pattie Mallette, also gave her take about his performance on Twitter:
"What Do You Mean?" was first released on Friday, and its music video dropped minutes before the VMAs went off the air on Sunday night.