Jingle Ball delivers gifts good, bad

  • Article by: JON BREAM , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 5, 2012 - 5:54 AM

We rate the performers as holiday “presents” — open me first, stocking stocker, regift or lump of coal.

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When the lineup for KDWB's annual Jingle Ball was announced, I went "Sigh." A bunch of one-hit wonders plus the still-chugging Train, Owatonna's Owl City, the so-2007 OneRepublic and a curiosity called PSY.

Please apologize, KDWB. Listeners deserve better -- like Justin Bieber, Taylor Swift or Rihanna, Or Pitbull or Flo Rida, who seems to be the most-played artist on KD at the moment. Or Ke$ha even.

Then I remembered: Past Jingle Balls have featured the then-little known Pink, Rihanna, Maroon 5 and someone named Lady Gaga.

So maybe after Tuesday's Jingle Ball at Xcel Energy Center, 15,093 tweens and teens (and moms) can boast "I saw her/him back when."

Or maybe these newcomers will be as quickly forgotten as Brooke Hogan (Hulk's daughter, remember?).

Was the 2012 Jingle Ball a gift to KDWB listeners? We rate the performers on their value as holiday "presents." Conor Maynard

The 20-year-old Brit is a cutey with good stage instincts, but he was out of breath after the first song and his generic dance-pop made him seem like a Justin Timberlake wanna-be. Rating: Regift.

Ellie Goulding

The 25-year-old British alt-popster with the "Live Fast" T-shirt and rhinestone-covered black bra started off like she was too hip for the room (she is dating electronica superstar Skrillex). But when she shifted into her more pop-inclined radio hits "Anything Could Happen" and "Lights," her strong voice and strong presence were fully appreciated. Rating: Stocking stuffer.

Cher Lloyd

A U.K. sensation thanks to "X Factor," the 19-year-old came across like the girl next door with an attitude. Her Brit-pop-with-a-beat was catchy, cheeky (self-censored for the young crowd) and totally charming. She was the perfect Christmas combination of nice and naughty. Rating: Open me first.

Owl City

Adam Young, 26, is not a one-hit wonder. Not only did the Jingle Ballers sing along with 2009's smash "Fireflies," but they loved the buoyant new single "Shooting Star" and this year's bouncy, aptly named "Good Time." The gangly Minnesotan was appealingly unpolished. Rating: Stocking stuffer.

OneRepublic

The Colorado sextet's pop was overly dramatic and overproduced. Although stocking-cap-wearing frontman Ryan Tedder, 33, jumped into the crowd with rock-star flair, he should stick to producing hits for Jordin Sparks, Leona Lewis and Beyonce. Rating: Lump of coal.

Ed Sheeran

The 21-year-old Brit (who will open next year for Taylor Swift, on whose CD he sings) is supremely talented, super-cute (the screams were Bieber-like) and admittedly indulgent. He did three songs in 25 minutes, dragging out a couple of rap-folk numbers and then getting the girls to swoon to his folk-pop hit "The A Team." Rating: Stocking stuffer.

Train

It was a nonstop half-hour of pop-rock radio hits from the veteran San Francisco band, the longtime go-to act for adult-pop Cities 97, which enlisted Train to headline this year's Basilica Block Party. A man for all occasions, frontman Pat Monahan, 43, is a savvy pro, the kind of guy who autographs his T-shirt, takes it off and then tosses it to the crowd. The kind of guy who invites girls onstage to sing "Mermaid," takes photos of him with them while singing and, at the end, praises the only boy who snuck in. And Monahan's voice is so high that it was easy for girls to sing along on "Hey, Soul Sisters" -- plus he cleverly tacked on the chorus of fun.'s blockbuster "We Are Young" at song's end. Talk about reaching out to the kids. Rating: Open me second.

PSY

This one-hit wonder with the year's biggest novelty hit, "Gangnam Style," hijacked the entire show with his rock-star turn. In his patter, the 34-year-old Korean was modest, citing his time at college in Boston and Minnesota as his biggest U.S. audience yet. He even took a photo of the crowd before he performed. And then PSY (pronounced sigh) worked it. He sang, rapped and danced like it was the performance of his life. And then he did it again -- with the houselights on by his request. Rating: Open me first.

Twitter: @jonbream • 612-673-1719#

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