It’s easy to see why Miley Cyrus was the belle of Z100’s Jingle Ball Friday night at Madison Square Garden.
It wasn’t because she twerked with Santa – though she did. It wasn’t her dance with a woman dressed as a Christmas tree. Or her regular rump-shaking dances.
No, Cyrus succeeded in getting the mostly teenaged crowd to shriek at One Direction-like volumes because she is trying to represent her fans – their rebellion, their experimentation, their beliefs. And Friday night, she did a pretty good job.
Cyrus, who was introduced by Lindsay Lohan, who congratulated Cyrus for being herself, was in fine voice, especially on “Wrecking Ball,” where she nailed notes even higher than in her original with impressive strength. Clearly, she’s been working on her voice as well as her dance moves.
It’s also no accident that the biggest roar in her set came during “We Can’t Stop,” when she declares, “It's our party we can do what we want… We can love who we want. We can kiss who we want.”
Macklemore and Ryan Lewis took that idea one step further, in introducing their same-sex marriage advocacy anthem “Same Love.” “I believe in tolerance,” Macklemore said. “I believe in empathy. I believe in equality.”
Their performance of “Same Love,” which included special guests Tegan and Sara, as well as the song’s original singer Mary Lambert, was basically a sing-along, as the crowd rapped along with Macklemore. The Seattle hip-hop duo’s set boasted the highest energy of the evening, during their closer “Can’t Hold Us,” which was no small feat considering how Paramore lit up the stage immediately before them.
The charm of Z100’s Jingle Ball, which will air on the CW on Wednesday, is that all the performers get, more or less, 15 minutes to make their best pitch to the fans. Jason Derulo chose to use his time to cram bits of a dizzying eight songs into 10 minutes. Paramore, on the other hand, decided to give a chunk of their set to a fan who joined the band to sing “Misery Business” with them. They then added a gospel choir for their new single “Ain’t It Fun,” which made another lasting impression, as did the charming rocker “Still Into You.”
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Fall Out Boy made a similarly strong case, even though sound problems marred their opening number “Dance, Dance.” The one-two punch of “Alone Together” and “My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark” made other sets seem a little bland.
SETLIST: Jason Derulo – Medley: Whatcha Say/It Girl/Ridin’ Solo/In My Head/Marry Me/Talk Dirty/The Other Side/We Could Make Love // Fifth Harmony – Medley: Miss Movin’ On/Better Together/Me and My Girls // Selena Gomez – Slow Down / Love You Like a Love Song / B.E.A.T. / Undercover / Come and Get It // Fall Out Boy – Dance, Dance / Thnks fr th Mmrs / Alone Together / My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark // Austin Mahone – Say You’re Just a Friend / Banga Banga / What About Love // Ariana Grande – Right There / Last Christmas / Put Your Hearts Up / The Way // R. Kelly – Ignition // Pitbull – International Love / Don’t Stop the Party / I Know You Want Me (Calle Ocho) / Timber / Feel This Moment / Give Me Everything (Tonight) // Robin Thicke – Give It 2 U / Feel Good / Blurred Lines // Enrique Iglesias – Tonight (I’m Lovin’ You) / I Like How It Feels / Heart Attack / I Like It // Paramore – Misery Business / Ain’t It Fun / The Only Exception / Still into You // Macklemore & Ryan Lewis – Thrift Shop (w/Wanz) / Same Love (w/Mary Lambert and Tegan and Sara) / White Walls / Can’t Hold Us (w/Ray Dalton) // Miley Cyrus – Party in the USA / We Can’t Stop / Get It Right / Summertime Sadness / Adore You / Wrecking Ball
CELEBRITIES SPOTTED: Lindsay Lohan, Anna Kendrick, Snooki and J-Woww, Katie Holmes, Kelly Ripa, Kellan Lutz, Norman Reedus, Dr. Oz