It has been more than 1,000 days since Justin Bieber released his last full-length studio album. But on Wednesday (Jan. 31) the singer gave his fans something to be hopeful about when he posted a series of pictures suggesting that their long musical drought might be over. In the snaps, Bieber was captured, mic in hand, in a recording studio with a live band, including shots in which he’s sitting on a glowing cube singing with enthusiasm while a nearby Teleprompter displays what look like lyrics.
In another snap, Bieber sits on a mixing console with a harmonica in his right hand and his left hand extended to his side, along with a pic of him walking through what looks like a rehearsal studio, another of him strolling outside, singing near a drum kit and crooning in close up, his eyes shut tight.
The rest of the reel — accompanied by a shushing emoji — consists of pictures of Bieber on the golf links swinging a club and enjoying a day out with a friend. Photographer Rory Kramer also posted some of the same pictures as well as other more colorful, artsy studio images on his Instagram, showing the heavily tattooed Bieber singing in the studio, both shirted and shirtless, writing, “Grateful for the freedom to do my thing. Thank you for that gift @justinbieber.”
Beliebers lost their collective minds over the images, posting comments including, “The prince of pop is BACK!!!,” “we miss u,” “THIS IS WHAT WE’VE BEEN WAITING FOR!!!,” “THE SCREAM I JUST LET OUT!!!” and “Pls drop an album.”
While a spokesperson for Bieber had not returned Billboard‘s request for comment at press time about whether the photos marked a return to music for the singer, the snaps were significant because they suggest that Bieber could be working on his first new music since his 2021 Justice album.
After launching a world tour in support of that collection and his 2020 Changes album in Feb. 2022 — following a nearly two-year delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic — Bieber revealed in June 2022 that he’d been diagnosed with Ramsay Hunt syndrome, which had resulted in “full paralysis” on one side of his face, leading to the postponement of some dates.
Though he hit the road again after a break, Bieber was forced to come off the road again after a Sept. 6, 2022 gig at the Rock in Rio festival due to ongoing health issues. At the time, Bieber said that he needed to “make my health the priority now,” announcing that he would take a break from touring for an indeterminate amount of time to rest and recuperate. A week later, Bieber postponed the next month of dates, then shortly after he cancelled all the remaining shows originally scheduled through March 25, 2023.
Bieber kept a low profile for much of the following year, returning in Sept. 2023 for a surprise cameo on the acoustic version of SZA’s “Snooze.” He began his recent slow emergence two weeks ago when the NHL and Adidas announced a collab with Bieber’s Drew House fashion line for a 2024 all-star jersey collection; a few days later Bieber was announced as one of the celeb captains of Saturday’s (Feb. 3) 2024 NHL all-star game in Toronto.
Just before posting his studio pics, Bieber posted a trio of cute snaps with wife Hailey Bieber.