On Monday, the Grammy Awards nominations were announced in the morning, and KDWB’s annual Jingle Ball parade of Top 40 stars was staged at sold-out Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul at night.
So it seems fitting to mash them up and give some awards to the performers for the 12-act, four-hour Jingle Ball, even though most of the sets lasted only three or four songs.
Best Justin Timberlake impression. Joe Jonas in his new funk-rock quartet DNCE. Loved the blue tinted hair, dude.
Best sign of the times. Joe Jonas jumped into the crowd to sing and only one bodyguard joined him. Five years ago, he would have been surrounded by security and screaming girls.
Best performance by a band member gone solo who can’t decide if he wants to sound like Prince or Maroon 5. Nick Jonas. Nice muscles, dude.
Best song with the worst title. Piano popster Charlie Puth’s “Marvin Gaye” sounded totally like a Carole King tune.
Best DJ set. Scotland’s Calvin Harris edges Germany’s Zedd if only because he had confetti in addition to lasers, strobes, stage fog and terrific videos. And Harris used to date Taylor Swift. Wait till she writes a song about you.
Best confession. The two brothers from the Virgin Islands that go by R. City admitted, “Our dad was in prison for five years. Our mom held it together. They’ve been together 38 years.” That’s a nice holiday message.
Best show of emotion. Sitting at a grand piano, Puth confessed, “I’m not crying. I’m a man. I was in London this morning and I got off the plane and found out this song [‘See You Again’] got three nominations.” He was the only Jingle Baller graced by the Grammys.
Best ingratiating line. “This reminds me of home,” said Swedish pop star Tove Lo. “It’s cold.” Welcome to Scandahoovia, girl.
Best line by a reprobate DJ. KDWB’s Lucas told the crowd of mostly teen girls: “I’ll personally call your school tomorrow and pretend to be your parent and tell ‘em you’re sick.” Lucas, your boss wants to see you first thing in the morning.
Best lip-syncing by an Oscar-nominated actress. Hailee Steinfeld sure acted like a singer.
Best packaging. iHeartRadio staged an efficiently run four-hour marathon (traveling to 10 other cities) with minimal downtime (commercials for movies and TV programs were shown) and excellent production values with video, lights and sound. So what if these acts didn’t have the star power of last year with Iggy Azalea, Ariana Grande, Jessie J and Meghan Trainor, or two years ago with Miley Cyrus?
Most improvement since last year’s Jingle Ball. Tie. Demi Lovato rocked it with sexy authority, and Shawn Mendes owned the stage with just his voice and acoustic guitar.
Next big star. Mendes again. At 17, the Canadian elicited the biggest screams from the 15,749 fans, whose average age was probably 14. He’s cute, sincere, likable. He has a quick smile and warm voice, with a little vibrato and a taste for hip-hop. His lyrics make girls swoon. Did we mention that he’s cute? And his surname isn’t Bieber.
Best performance by a rock band that has played at umpteen KDWB Jingle Balls. Yes, Fall Out Boy was back once again to close the show. These Chicago-launched pop-punks still know how to rock with as much fun as professionalism. Bassist Pete Wentz, at 36, may have been the grizzled oldies at Jingle Ball, but it’s nice to know that rock is alive and well in a world of mostly bubble-gum pop and dance rock.