I’ve been going to Jingleball for three years now. I used to make fun of it but now that I’m older and completely out of touch with the youths, I find it a good time to check in and see how things are going in the top-40 scene that I tend to avoid like the plague. The crowds are obnoxious, the screaming from tweens is deafening but it’s a hell of a good time and, with only three or four songs performed by each group, the style and sound is always changing and although I may dislike some of the songs or acts, there is something new coming in just a couple of minutes at all times.
Kicking the night off was a favorite of the night for me- Kim Petras. Kim didn’t let the fact that she was the first act of the night deter her at all. I watched in awe as she gave the audience everything she had during her short pop-princess feeling set that had an undeniable edge to it. At only 26 years old, Kim is young, sassy, and full of life and that was heard loud and clear through her performance. I wish I could talk more about her and her life because it’s actually quite fascinating (she was the subject of a lot of media coverage due to going through a gender transition at a young age) but, I still have eight other acts to get through. I urge you to check out Kim and her music and do hope to see her headlining at First Avenue sooner rather than later. She was definitely my favorite act of the night.
Following Kim’s explosive opening set was a more subdued set from Bazzi. With a live band behind him, Bazzi roamed around the stage in a red jumpsuit while captivating the audience with ease. Although I couldn’t sing along to the pop songs he was putting out, the girls around me could and they were singing loud enough for everyone in the arena.
Enter Sabrina Carpenter. Sabrina’s voice has always had me sold. Although her being 19 years old makes me feel like a complete grandma, there’s no denying her talent. Her few songs was perfectly curated. A mixture of dancing songs and pop-like ballads, in just a couple of songs, I was able to see many different sides of this songstress and I would be lying if I said I didn’t love them all. With three full length albums out in a short amount of time, there’s clearly no stopping this lady and I truly can’t wait to see her grow. It may have taken me three years (I’ve seen her at Jingleball before) but I’m finally catching on.
The Chainsmokers were one of the few acts on last night’s bill that I actually knew about. Their main-stream EDM sound may be annoying to some and even laughable at times but there’s no denying that their songs are catching and their live shows are notorious. Their couple of songs were highlighted by smoke machines and fireworks that went off throughout their set. Although missing a huge opportunity of bringing Halsey out for the hit song “Closer”, they did surprise the audience by bringing out Kelsea Ballerini for “This Feeling”. I thoroughly enjoyed The Chainsmokers’ set but it seemed to lack the vibe I had wanted from them. I blame it on the young crowd and quick sets. I do hope to see them make a stop at The Armory soon so I can see their full potential when it comes to a live show.
Although the show thus far had been decent, it lacked the personality that I always look for at shows. The sheer number of artists and the short sets can make it hard for musicians to connect to fans. And honestly, the crowd was streaming in and out of during sets did not help. This all changed as Bebe Rexha jumped into her final song of the night. I don’t know if it was all planned or not (I’m hoping it was completely organic and will stick with that idea because that’s what I want to think) but before singing her final song of the night, Bebe spotted a girl in the crowd that had been following her for years. She brought said woman on stage to help her sing and dance her hit song “Meant To Be”. Although just a small part of a long night, this moment finally brought a sense of personality to the show that I always want to see and feel at any show I go to.
Dinah Jane from Fifth Harmony was up next. Her dance moves were the highlight of her set along with the impressive vocal range. Her upbeat yet sexy set had the people around me dancing to the beat with smiles on their faces.
Boy band 5 Seconds of Summer blasted onto the stage after Dinah’s set and instantly had me falling back in love with the boy-band scene. Although clearly channeling their inner pop-punk vibes, 5SOS have a pop sound that bridges the gap between many scenes making their music accessible and fun to many different people. The deafening screams every time there was a break in the music made it clear that 5SOS was a highly anticipated act of the night and one that did not disappoint. The Australian boys had a high energy that I only hope I get to see a full show of in the near future.
Just like before 5SOS went on stage, the screaming was deafening as the one and only Halsey took the stage. I saw Halsey last year at Jingleball and her set did not do much for me then, but something clicked last night and I have a new appreciation for this woman. Her voice reigned supreme throughout her set and her attitude was on fire. Although coming off a bit like a bad-ass in her shiny leather (or pleather) skin-tight pants, there was something super personable and real about her. I don’t know if I was just in a bad mood when I saw her perform last year or what but I was eating up every word her every song she performed last night with a smile on my face. I know I missed my chance to see Halsey on a smaller stage (which is kind of my style if you haven’t noticed) but I would definitely pay for a ticket to see her headline a show and get the full experience.
Sadly, the crowd dissipated after Halsey left the stage. With one act left to go, it was clear that the long night of music was too much for some of the younger fans or older fans (depending on how you looked at it– families were streaming out of the arena). I was bummed, there was still one act to go and it was an act that I was super stoked for. My old roommate in college was obsessed with the k-pop scene which got me into it back before it was cool (yeah, I went there). Although I tend to keep it to myself, the k-pop world has always and will continue to hold a special place in my heart. Although the crowd had thinned, I couldn’t help but leap to my feet as k-pop group Monsta X closed out the night. With their synchronized dance moves and obnoxiously poppy sound, they were the perfect act to close out the night (although maybe having superstar Halsey close out the night would have made more sense). Hailing from South Korea, being able to catch this group if only for a couple of songs was definitely a treat and, had Kim Petras not been so damn cute and charming, I think Monsta X would have easily walked away with the best show of the night.
People laugh when I say I’m going to Jingleball every year but honestly it’s an event I look forward to. Being able to glimpse into the music world of the youths is nice and only having to sit through a couple songs from each artist is heavenly. There’s always some high point and some low points to every Jingleball but that’s part of the fun.