Z100's Jingle Ball was all for the young

From left, Louis Tomlinson, Harry Styles, Niall Horan,

From left, Louis Tomlinson, Harry Styles, Niall Horan, Liam Payne and Zayn Malik of One Direction perform onstage during Z100's Jingle Ball 2012, presented by Aeropostale, at Madison Square Garden in Manhattan. (Dec. 7, 2012) (Credit: Getty Images)

The theme of this year's Z100's Jingle Ball was stated oh-so-elegantly at the beginning of the nearly four-hour pop music extravaganza by One Direction, though it may have been lost in all the ear-piercing screams.

"Let's go crazy, crazy, crazy til we see the sun," the British boy-band sensation sang in unison, as they drove the crowd into a hopping frenzy. "Tonight, let's get some . . . And live while we're young."

In case the crowd at Madison Square Garden on Friday night missed it, newly minted Grammy juggernaut fun. turned it into a moving sing-along on their record and song of the year nominee "We Are Young."

Get it? Young. In 2012, pop music is young -- for the young, and, more importantly, by the young. The young artist initiative was out in full force -- from the night's 18-year-old headliner Justin Bieber to 22-year-old country princess Taylor Swift to newcomer 21-year-old singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran. The oldest One Direction guy is 20 and the oldest of The Wanted guys is 24. (By the way, Lindsay Lohan was in the house to watch her new friend, The Wanted's Max George.)

For the most part, they are doing music directly tailored for their young audience. Sheeran was impressive with only an acoustic guitar, delivering hits "Lego House" and "The A Team" about the struggles of young adulthood.

Swift, on the other hand, offered big production numbers, complete with confetti cannons and backup singers and dancers, for songs from her No. 1 album "Red," including her hit "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together," which sounds even better when thousands scream along.

The only star on the roster who didn't really deliver on the young and fun theme was Bieber. He started out well, with elaborate choreography on his upbeat hits "All Around the World" and "Beauty and a Beat." However, he stayed too long in an acoustic set that drained the energy at The Garden after four songs.

Sure, Bieber picked it up again during "Boyfriend" and "Baby," but it was a missed opportunity to go "crazy, crazy, crazy!"

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