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Recognized at age 19 with the Milestone Award (after also taking top male artist and top social artist), the singer took the stage — and the opportunity — to make a statement.
Said an emotional Bieber: “I’m 19 years old. I think I’m doing a pretty good job. And basically, from my heart, I just really want to say it should really be about the music. This is not a gimmick. I’m an artist and I should be taken seriously, and all this other bulls–t should not be spoken of.”
The declaration prompted both cheers and boos, and it wasn’t immediately apparent whether his message got through.
Later in the press room, singer Taylor Swift was asked about Bieber receiving such an honor at so young an age, to which the country star replied: “Can we have another question, please?”
The snub is believed to be related to Bieber’s ex, Selena Gomez, who was seen at Swift’s side both in the audience and backstage several times throughout the evening.
Watch the video below.