Years of turmoil, his months in the tabloids, and the rise of One Direction have done little to diminish Justin Bieber’s appeal. The 21-year-old pop singer closed out the inaugural Billboard Hot 100 Fest with a short, sweet, hit-packed headlining set on Sunday night. With a countdown clock and a subtle social media campaign ticking down to new music, it seemed like Bieber might throw the crowd at Jones Beach the new track, “What Do You Mean,” due out this month, but no such luck.
“Do you guys want some new music?” he asked on stage at one point. The crowd screamed yes. “Well I’m gonna play something old first,” Bieber responded before launching into “As Long As You Love Me,” his 2010 track from My Worlds.
Bieber’s set position was itself a tease, of possible collaborations. He was directly preceded on the main Billboard stage by Nicki Minaj and Skrillex, both of whom he has recorded high-profile singles with. He ended up going one for two, and performed “Beauty and the Beat,” his duet with Minaj, early in the set, so it was a little disappointing when he simply nodded along to a her recorded rap verse. Luckily, Skrillex was game, and joined Bieber for the finale, sending off Billboard’s first fest with a rousing performance of the smash single, “Where Are U Now.”
The finale included a shirtless Bieber, piles of confetti, a light show, and one photo of the entire, roaring crowd. The song was so explosive it made the fireworks afterward seem a little muted by comparison.
But the wait continues for new Bieber music.