Usher Says Justin Bieber Almost Signed With Justin Timberlake

“It was a bit of a bidding war."

Usher says Justin Bieber almost signed with Justin Timberlake.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

According to Usher, his iconic collaboration with pop star Justin Bieber almost didn't happen.

In an exclusive interview with People, the "My Way" singer opened up about meeting Bieber after his Confessions album and how coveted the up-and-coming performer was in the music industry. In fact, the Canadian singer even caught the attention of former boy band member Justin Timberlake.

"We built a friendship, but this would obviously create a partnership that would span us forever, and it was a bit of a bidding war between me and Justin Timberlake," Usher told the publication. "I was like, I'm not certain that I could understand each and every producer that this artist could benefit from, but what I can tell you is I'm going to give you my passion, and I'm going to give you every bit of what I have to offer."

Usher went on to say that he was able to convince Bieber to sign with Scooter Braun, his former manager, by reminding the artist that "there can only be one Justin."

Justin Bieber and Usher arrives at the "Justin Bieber's Believe" World Premiere at Regal Cinemas L.A. Live on December 18, 2013.

Justin Bieber and Usher arrives at the "Justin Bieber's Believe" World Premiere at Regal Cinemas L.A. Live on December 18, 2013.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

"So if you want to go with Justin, that's Justin and Justin," Usher recalls telling Bieber at the time. "Me, it's only one Justin. So that obviously created a relationship and (there was) that support of him as an entrepreneur, because I think that he was trying to find himself as well."

Usher and Bieber went on to create the hit 2010 song "Somebody To Love," which debuted at 98 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart before reaching 15 and catapulting Bieber's impressive career.

In addition to discussing the start of Bieber's career and Usher's push to have him sign with Braun, the "Caught Up" singer also discussed the ongoing comparisons between him and Timberlake, who as a solo artist embodied the same hip-hop sound as Usher.

"I'm in competition with no one other than myself," Usher told People.

Justin Timberlake and Usher during 2003 Clive Davis Pre-GRAMMY Party - Inside at The Regent, Wall Street in New York, New York, United States.

Justin Timberlake and Usher during 2003 Clive Davis Pre-GRAMMY Party - Inside at The Regent, Wall Street in New York, New York, United States.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

"We are all unique artists and have our creativity," this year's Super Bowl Half Time performer continued. "I love the producers that he works with, so much so that I worked with them, and I think he loves the producers that I worked with, so much so that he's worked with them."

Usher went on to add that he has "always wanted to do a record with Justin" and has "reached out many times," but the pair have "never managed to make it happen."

"I've always tried to beat my own record, beat my own expectations, and try and better myself," Usher added. "And if anything, I am motivated by people like Justin. I think that he is an amazing performer, and I think that he has a legacy that should be respected and not compared to anybody else. He should be recognized for who he is and what his contribution has been."

Justin Bieber and Usher attend the game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Golden State Warriors at Staples Center on October 19, 2021.

Justin Bieber and Usher attend the game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Golden State Warriors at Staples Center on October 19, 2021.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Earlier this week, Usher confirmed that he had asked Bieber to join him on stage during the Super Bowl 58 Half Time show. Bieber, however, declined.

While appearing on The Breakfast Club, Usher said that thinks it "might have just been that (Justin is) just wanting to tell a different story right now."

"I did understand that,” Usher continued. “We did have a brief conversation, and we’re gonna do something else in the future.”

Danielle Campoamor

Danielle Campoamor is an award-winning freelance writer covering mental health, reproductive justice, abortion access, maternal mental health, politics, and feminist issues. She has been published in The New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, NBC, Vogue, Harper's Bazaar, Marie Claire, InStyle, Playboy, Teen Vogue, Glamour, The Daily Beast, and more.