Justin Bieber is one of the most recognisable pop stars in the world. He burst onto the scene as a teenager in 2010, with the chart-topping earworm, Baby. Despite several ups and downs in his personal life since his debut, his fans have remained dedicated to him and his music. He is the most subscribed to solo artist on YouTube, even though his music has come a long way from the teen pop that he became famous for. Justin Bieber: Our World, Amazon Prime Video's latest docu-film on the singer, documents his first full concert in three years.
Post the Purpose World Tour in 2017, Bieber took a break from performing due to mental and physical health issues. While his Justice World Tour has been postponed to 2022 because of COVID restrictions across the world, he performed a concert in Los Angeles on 31st December, 2020 to bring in the new year. Our World goes behind the scenes of this concert, highlighting the challenges and joy behind bringing music and entertainment to people around the world amidst a pandemic. Here are four things we learnt that went into the making of the event:
The concert was conceptualised when the US was still in the worst stages of the pandemic, before vaccines became available. It was to be held in Los Angeles – one of the worst-hit districts in the country. None of the traditional concert venues in the city – theatres, stadiums etc. – were viable. And so, the concert was held on the rooftop of The Beverly Hilton, with spectators watching from hotel room balconies. The hotel itself is a very old structure, built in the 1950s, and Bieber's crew spent three months engineering the weight of the stage itself.
Many people on the crew – dancers, the band, engineers – all commented on how lucky they were to be working during a pandemic when so many were out of work. The dedication they have towards their craft is evident. It is clear that Bieber's own determined leadership had a great effect on this attitude. Reflecting on this in the documentary, he says, "It's something I've grown into, something that I don't take lightly as I've gotten older." The crew was extremely careful about every possible COVID safety protocol, because one person getting infected meant the entire show would fall through. Despite the precautions, co-designer and chief choreographer, Nick deMoura contracted the virus three weeks before the show. Luckily, no one else was infected. The documentary further delved into how the crew overcame the difficulties that came with coordinating a show remotely. Bieber led his team through these challenges, keeping spirits high.
The documentary is a nostalgia fest. Bieber sings many of his songs that viewers have grown up with – Sorry, Love Yourself and of course, Baby. Interestingly, Bieber continues to work with many of the same people he started out with: the band, his security manager, his dancers and the show's choreographer, deMoura. Through archival footage and anecdotes, they recount what it has been like to watch Justin grow from a teen star to a family man. It's a unique perspective on one of the most famous people in the world.
Bieber is almost unrecognisable from his old public image as a teen heartthrob in Our World. We see him as a man who takes his siblings to the park, does face masks with his wife the night before a concert, and puts his family before everything else. It's heartwarming to hear him talk about how his family and his relationship with Hailey Bieber make him feel safe enough to go after his dreams.
Although Our World is a concert film, it takes us right into Bieber's world – following a pop star who has built and rebuilt a life for himself that he is truly happy and grateful for.
Recommendation in collaboration with Amazon Prime Video