Yesterday was one of my favorite nights of the year- Jingle Ball. Don’t laugh, I’m being 100% serious. I love the fact that an old fuddy duddy like me can have one night to get a little sampling of all the music the youths (and myself when nobody is around and my Spotify player is set to private) are loving these days while still being able to be home and in bed at a reasonable hour.
A personal favorite of mine, Lauv, got things started off on the right foot. Instantly bringing an infectious pop vibe that had the primarily female audience on their feet and screeching, his quick set packed a punch and was exactly what I wanted from this young popstar. His music made even the most cynic reviewer in the press box crack a smile and that says everything that needs to be said about Lauv’s powerful and free-loving opening set. I can’t wait for the day he announces a headlining tour coming through Minneapolis because there’s no way I will miss that.
Why Don’t We is one of those boy bands that I just can’t get enough of but don’t listen to enough of at the same time. Channeling their inner *NSYNC and Backstreet Boys and every other boyband that plastered my walls when I was a tween, the five piece took the stage each standing on their own platforms doing their own dance moves while swooning the girls in the audience to the point where excitement just couldn’t be contained. Although there was choreography throughout their set, there was also something strangely organic about the quick performance making it a stand out set from the evening.
The boy band trend kept coming as 5 Seconds of Summer took the stage to a completely deafening scream from the audience. 5SOS is one of those bands that I have no shame admitting my love for so being able to catch them live again was a true treat. This boyband has a little bit of an edge but they are still completely a top-40 pop act with infectious beats and a charming look. Their set reflected that but also showed me that these kids truly have grown up and have only gotten better with time. There was something more mature about their performance compared to the previous two which, as one of the older people in the audience, was definitely a relief. Out of all of the quick performances on Monday night, 5 Seconds of Summer was by far my favorite.
Although Jingle Ball had been completely male dominated through 5 Seconds of Summer’s set, it was time for a lady to come on stage and a delightful one at that- Camila Cabello. I’ve caught this woman once before at last year’s Jingle Ball and was pleasantly surprised by her performane so I was excited to see what she could bring to the table this year. Although Camila and her powerful voice were nothing short of captivating, the addiction of eight dancers definitely brought a wow factor to her already electric set. Although sets are always quick at this event, Camila was able to produce a set that was all over the place from vengeful dramatic pieces to sexy dance numbers and all the way to her dancy hit song ‘Havana’ which just showed her strength as an artist. Her set also proved that she will not just be a flash in the pan. It has only been about a year since the last time I saw her but the improvement is staggering and there is surely a lot more to come from this young woman.
Monsta X was up next. I fell in love with this group when I caught them last year and within their first song on Monday night I reminded why. The amount of energy this young K-pop group has is extraordinary and when you mix that energy with their electrifying dance moves and stunning vocals, you are left with a truly explosive performance that will surely have the audience talking for days, if not weeks, to come. There was something quirky about the banter between songs and that way at times, between choreographed parts, the five men seemed to just be wandering around stage with no clear plan or path that had Monsta X taking the award for more personable group of the night. A lot of bands have been trying to get K-pop to catch on here in the U.S. and if anyone is able to do it, it will be Monsta X.
Closing out the electric and star studded night of music was the one and only Katy Perry. I was fortunate enough to catch one of Katy Perry’s headlining tour dates a couple of years ago so I was worried that with time for only a couple of songs, she wouldn’t reach the expectations I had set for her after seeing her headline at the same arena– I was wrong. She exploded onto the stage and reminded everyone in the audience that she is not going anywhere and continues to be a constant in the pop scene.
Katy’s eight song set seemed to be over in the blink of an eye and although I wanted so much more from her, her perfectly curated performance was a really good example of her strength as a live artist if you had never seen her perform before. She kicked off her set with “Cozy Little Christmas” which reminded the audience that the holidays are upon us whether we like it or not, and the proceeded to play her hits including “I Kissed a Girl” and closing with a highly emotional and beautiful “Firework”. I was worried that such a quick set wouldn’t do this songstress justice but she somehow pulled it off and then some leaving the audience talking and smiling as they left the arena at the end of the night and already started speculating who would be at next year’s Jingle Ball.
My friends and I laugh about Jingle Ball but the fact is, I love it. It’s a great sampler platter of some of the best talent out there that you may have never heard of before or that you may have never thought you would get to experience live. I joke year after year about going but I leave year after year with a giant smile on my face and an anticipation for the next Jingle Ball.