NEW YORK (Reuters) - Oh Baby! Justin Bieber's comeback is getting off to an emotional start with the Canadian pop sensation showcasing his sensitive side as he seeks to put his bad boy past firmly behind him.
Bieber, now 21, broke down in tears at Sunday's MTV Video Music Awards show after his first performance there in five years.
The sobs, he told Jimmy Fallon in an appearance on "The Tonight Show," were authentic.
"Honestly, I just wasn't expecting them to support me in the way they did. Last time I was at an award show I was booed," Bieber told Fallon on Wednesday.
Bieber 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 behavior off stage and a string of court cases that risked damaging his image as a family-friendly teen heartthrob.
Bieber first found fame as a 13 year-old and went on to become a global pop phenomenon with hits like "Baby" and "Believe."
He said in January that he was aiming to shed the "arrogant" and "conceited" attitude that led to arrests for careless driving, pelting a neighbor's home with eggs, assaulting a photographer, and abandoning a pet monkey at a German 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 are okay with, and what you're not okay with, but you have to test the waters. I just happen to be in front of a spotlight and they caught all those moments."
In the first of a series of week-long promotions on NBC's "Today" show on Thursday, Bieber's 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.
Bieber's latest single, "What Do You Mean?" released last week, is expected to give him his first top 10 hit since 2012. He is expected to promote it to his "Belieber" fans in a free "Today" show concert in New York City on Sept. 10.
(Reporting By Jill Serjeant; Editing by Andrew Hay)