On Jan. 15, 2007, Pattie Mallette created a YouTube account under the moniker “Kidrauhl.” Four days later, she uploaded her first video: a grainy clip of her 12-year-old son, Justin Bieber, singing Ne-Yo’s “So Sick” at a talent competition in Stratford, Ontario.
“Justin made it to the final 3 with ‘So Sick’ and ‘Basketball’ in the Local singing competition,” she wrote in the video’s description. “I know the videos of him are dark but you can hear him and get a sense of his stage presence.”
She was right: Justin, classily outfitted in black slacks, a white collared shirt and a tie, gripped onto the microphone as if trying to hide how nervous he was. But once he hit his stride and became more confident onstage, he was magnetizing. Sure, he was singing about things that were probably way beyond his grasp — he likely hadn’t been in love or experienced heartbreak before — but he made you believe he had. There was surely potential there.
The next handful of videos that Mallette uploaded were from other singing competitions Justin participated in, but by the end of 2007, they had begun to record in their own home. Finally, viewers could see Justin up close. They could look in his eyes and feel a connection with him, which, as you can imagine, converted many a girl into a Belieber.
But pretty soon, things began to change. Celebrities started popping up on his page; there were videos of him meeting Justin Timberlake and Wyclef Jean and Nick Cannon and eventually Usher, who would go on to be his mentor and collaborator. We started seeing a change of scenery too — Justin wasn’t confined to his basement anymore; he was singing in recording studios and radio stations, where flocks of fans would show up to see him in person. It was all thanks to Scooter Braun, a talent manager who recognized Justin’s potential and helped him land a record deal. Scooter warned the world in 2009 for us to “get ready”… he wasn’t kidding.
The rest is history: four studio albums, two concert films, four world tours, and plenty of records broken. But to longtime Beliebers, he’ll always be Kidrauhl, that pint-sized, floppy-haired kid who oozed energy and silliness but sang with the kind of sincerity that could move you to tears.
That’s why Jan. 15 — the anniversary of the day he launched his YouTube account — has become an important celebration for fans. It gives them the chance to remember how far Justin’s come and to recommit themselves to the artist they’ll always love. Check out some of the best #9YearsofKidRauhl tributes below (suggested musical accompaniment here).