With the screams of thousands of girls (and a surprising number of Buble-wanting, Enrique-loving women) still ringing in my ears, it's time to assess what I learned from this year's edition of Z100's Jingle Ball last night at Madison Square Garden.
1. Justin Bieber needs longer sets. Let's face it, five songs is not enough to build a frenzy. The Bieb got it going with “Somebody to Love,” showing off some fancy dance moves with his four dancers. But after showing a preview of his upcoming 3D movie that was shot at the Garden, bringing out his pals Sean Kingston and Jayden Smith, and delivering his new ballad “Pray,” there really wasn't much time left for, you know, frenzy-building. That made his bit to tease fans by delaying “Baby” for a few minutes seem odd, even though he did teach the families of Long Island and New Jersey how to Dougie and Jerk. “The last time I was here for Jingle Ball, I had a broken foot,” he declared. “This year, I'm here and both my limbs are working.” Um, actually, Bieb, oh never mind.
2. Katy Perry really wants people to think she's a serious artist. As if her surprising Album of the Year Grammy nomination wasn't enough, Perry made every attempt to be taken seriously in her set. Well, as seriously as you can take a pantsless toy soldier from “The Nutcracker.” She turned the opening of “Hot N Cold” into a Christmas carol mash-up and the start of “I Kissed a Girl” into a torch song. She has also apparently entered her Madonna Newlywed phase where she speaks in almost a British accent and takes on the cadences of her husband. Perry fared better with her more light-hearted songs, especially “Teenage Dream” and “California Gurls,” as well as the inspirational “Firework,” which ended with fireworks. Seriously.
3. Paramore is awesome. Not only did the high-powered Paramore wake everyone up after the bland sets of Taio Cruz and Bruno Mars, but they stood as a testament that hard rock can still work with a pop audience. Also, bringing up someone from the audience (you go, Molly!) to close out “Misery Business” and the tender ballad “The Only Exception” were both incredibly sweet.
4. Enrique Iglesias still doesn't get what “Hero” means to New York City. Look, I get that Enrique is a light-hearted guy and is into the Euro-disco sound at the moment with the thumping “Tonight” and “I Like It” – which were both tons of fun. But “Hero,” which became so many New Yorkers' anthem in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, packs so much more of an emotional wallop here than other places. Maybe he could just sing it straight rather than use it as a set piece to fake-romance a 16-year-old girl. Just a thought.
5. Bruno Mars needs to learn about time management. OK, so radio shows are known for their remarkably short sets. So what does seven-time Grammy nominee Bruno Mars do with his valuable time? He spends a minute or so entering to the theme to “2001: A Space Odyssey” then embarks on a drum solo and then after that build-up he starts with the ballad “Cross the Line.”
SETLIST: TAIO CRUZ – Break Your Heart / Higher (feat. Travie McCoy) / Dynamite / BRUNO MARS – Cross the Line / Money (That's What I Want)/Billionaire (w/Travie McCoy) / Grenade / Just the Way You Are / PARAMORE – Brick by Boring Brick / Misery Business / The Only Exception / B.o.B. - Don't Let Me Fall / Magic / Nothin' on You (w/Bruno Mars) / Airplanes (w/Hayley Williams) / SELENA GOMEZ – Round and Round / A Year Without Rain / Naturally / MICHAEL BUBLE – Hollywood / Haven't Met You Yet / Let It Snow / KATY PERRY – Hot N Cold / Teenage Dream / E.T. / I Kissed a Girl / Firework / California Gurls / ENRIQUE IGLESIAS – Tonight / Escape / Hero / I Like It / JUSTIN BIEBER – Somebody to Love / Never Say Never (w/Jayden Smith) / Eenie Meenie (w/Sean Kingston) / Pray / Baby