Monday night was the annual KDWB Jingleball at Xcel Energy Center in downtown Saint Paul. Go ahead and judge me but I look forward to this event every year. The show is always a display of the who’s who in the pop world and it’s nice to play catch up once a year and get a listen to what the kids are listening to these days.
Last night’s extravaganza started with a band I had heard the name of before (although that’s where my knowledge of them ends)– Why Don’t We. Why Don’t We is a five-piece pop band based out of Los Angeles, CA (go figure). They started off the night with everything you could ever ask for from a boy band. From synchronized dance moves to heart-felt singing towards the shrieking females in the crowd…. it was pretty much Backstreet Boys and *NSYNC reincarnated.
Sabrina Carpenter was up next and, like majority of the rest of the line-up, I had never even heard her name prior to last night’s show. I was instantly struck but this songstress’ voice. She had a set of a pipes on her and wasn’t afraid to use them. It was clear that she was singing live what with the way it sounded like she was literally screaming into the microphone which gave her set a much more rock n roll vibe that I had been expecting. Sabrina’s set included a beautiful cover of “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” that truly showcased the talent in this young lady. Note from the crowd– all of the teenage girls around me were raving about Sabrina’s eyebrows and the talent it takes to make them look like that.
Next was the first of two acts that originated from One Direction. Liam Payne seems to have ditched the boy-band sound for something a bit more hip-hop but that didn’t change the way the crowd responded to him. The girls shrieked as he danced through his handful of songs that were full of energy and power. Although he has seemed to lost the boy band look and sound, he still has that vibe that had all of the young girls in the crowd worshiping every move he made.
Up next- Camila Cabello. Name sound familiar? Well, it didn’t to me but apparently she is from Fifth Harmony making her somewhat of a household name. Camila’s set had a depth to id that hadn’t been seen thus far in the show. Her music and look was a bit more mature than what the crowd had been exposed to before but that didn’t change the way she was perceived by the thousands of people in the crowd. Camila’s set included her hit song “Havana” which had a very dancey feel to it that had me finally debating getting out of my seat and get moving a bit. When everyone else was closing with the predictable radio hits, Camila closed her set with a song that has yet to come out but is due out on her upcoming release. Although this caused majority of the crowd to sit back down for her final song, it had me intrigued and kind of in love with this woman for doing that.
Heartthrob Charlie Puth took the stage next and it was instantly clear that he was one of the favorites of the night. His music was much calmer than what we had experienced but that didn’t stop the crowd from screaming along to nearly every word he sang. The groups of friends surrounding me were all hugging and swaying together to the calming music. At only 26 years old, Charlie has been making waves in the music scene for years now and there’s no question why. His perfect pitch (which makes me far too jealous to explain), soothing voice, and catchy pop songs are the perfect storm for a superstar. If he’s not already at that status, he will be in no time.
What happened next completely blew my mind and, although we were unable to photograph her, Kesha deserves some mention. With all of the drama with her over the past couple of years (the hassle of getting out of a bad contract, being a victim of sexual assault– girl just could not get a break) I was half expecting a mess of a performance but Kesha served up the complete opposite. It is super easy for me to say this- Kesha ran away with the show last night. Her independent woman vibe mixed with her truly powerful vocal strength created an energy that had me finally up and out of my seat. I watched in awe as she stormed from side to side of the stage looking better than ever. There was no denying her beauty or talent throughout the short set and it quickly became something I never wanted to end. With lights flashing and the crowd singing along, Kesha played through a couple of new songs and a couple of old ones all with a sense of fury. Kesha is back people and you need to be paying attention.
Halsey played next. Her set was complete with a surprise appearance from G-Eazy. I walked into last night no being a huge Halsey fan and, sadly, I don’t see that changing any time in the future. Editor’s note: Our photographer, as per the instructions he was given was in the pit photographing Halsey when halfway through the second song all photographers were removed from the pit and told they could only shoot from the soundboard. By the time we got there (much less had a chance to change our lenses) the 2nd song and our allowed time to photograph Halsey was over – so no pictures are available.
As the lights went down and the stage rotated for the next act, the crowd started going wild. Niall Horan was next and it was blatantly clear that he was the crowd favorite of the night before he even stepped onto the stage. Niall was the other member of One Direction who performed last night. With his classic good-boy look and his pop-superstar song, Niall treated the crowd to a laid back and powerful set that had the girls in front of me literally crying. He acknowledged the fact that his music may bring down the mood a bit as he was the slowest act on the stage but that didn’t stop him from being the favorite. At some point during his set, it was almost hard to hear the vocals over the shrieking fans who were screaming along to every word. Although I don’t quite get the hype on him, I couldn’t help but get a little wrapped up in the crowd around me and, by his last song, I found myself swaying along to the broken-hearted love songs.
Closing out the night with a bang was a personal favorite of mine- Fall Out Boy. Having just covered them a couple of weeks ago, I won’t go too far into depth regarding their show but I will say– they were the perfect ending to a night of some of the best pop music out there. Their set was complete with the pyrotechnics they had during their headlining set and featured both old and new songs. When everything was said and done, thousands of people flooded out of the doors and into what had become the winter wonderland that is Saint Paul. As much as the 13 mile drive taking me an hour and a half sucked what with the fresh snow and howling winds, I regret nothing. Jingleball may be a joke to some but it’s one of my favorite events of the year. It’s the one show a year where I get to see a bunch of artists from the world of Pop Music that I don’t know much about.