BY RYON HORNE
The night began with vocal-driven, soft songs from Lukas Graham and ended like an EDM festival with The Chainsmokers.
Power 96.1 delivered another holiday treat for a packed a Philips Arena Friday night with some zealous fans for their annual pop fest Jingle Ball, staging acts including Daya, Alessia Cara, Fifth Harmony, DNCE and Ariana Grande.
With that lineup, one would be surprised to know that the annoying part of Jingle Ball was not listening to high pitch screams of fans for three hours, but the lighting with constant strobes and spot lights flashing directly into the crowd. Yet, despite the distraction, the talent on stage was undeniable.
Here’s what we could focus on:
— Lukas Graham, wearing a tank top and skully, kicked things off for the annual show with “Mama Said” and “You’re Not There.” Yet things went a different route when the band hit “Strip No More” and “Drunk in the Morning,” two things the majority of the audience are too young to partake in. With a horn section, drummer, bassist, and pianist behind him, Graham made a toast to the crowd for recently being nominated for three Grammys. He topped his set off with the smash hit “7 Years.”
— Daya, strutting the stage in high heels, easily maneuvered through her rhythmic hit “Words” and the catchy whistle track “Sit Still, Look Pretty,” but slowed things down behind the piano with her melodic “Back to Me.” She couldn’t leave the stage without performing “Hide Away.” “This song has changed my life,” she said.
— Machine Gun Kelly made a quick appearance to perform “Bad Things,” a duet with Fifth Harmony’s Camila Cabello.
— Then there’s Alessia Cara and her voice. This 20-year-old, who took the stage donning a tie-dyed T-shirt and a ball cap, simply killed it. She hit soulful runs perfectly with songs like “Overdose” and her self-esteem message “Scars to Your Beautiful.”
— DNCE was the party band of the night, able to get all of the parents on their feet with a medley from the ’90s of covers like “Wannabe” and “Oops! … I Did It Again.” It’s so evident this group has experience in stage presence, which is led by pop veteran Joe Jonas. With bassist Cole Whittle flying across stage on every song, reminiscent of Flea from Red Hot Chili Peppers, the four-member crew kept everyone out of their seats, especially on their final song of the set, “Cake by the Ocean.”
— The prototype pop group Fifth Harmony seemed to be the only performers of the night to sing over a track – it
takes a lot to move as much as they do and not be winded. Despite what we think, the ladies of Fifth Harmony got a co-sign from hitmaker DJ Khaled, via recorded audio, before their set. Plus, they had more than 15,000 fans who vouched for their every note on songs such as “That’s My Girl” and “Bo$$.”
— Then came 5-foot-tall Ariana Grande, who’s voice sounds like she’s 20 feet-tall. This star can flat out sing. Whether she was flowing effortlessly through her opening song “Side to Side,” or closing with her Grammy-nominated song “Dangerous Woman,” watching and hearing her live is quite the spectacle. Grande was the only performer of the night who engaged in the spirit for the tour when she dished out a medley of holiday songs from her 2015 EP “Christmas & Chill.” For the most part, Grande’s set was a sneak peek of her “Dangerous Woman Tour,” set for an April 12 stop at Philips Arena.
— And finally the EDM party started when The Chainsmokers blasted on the stage. With the pyrotechnics and build of every bass drop, the two-man DJ crew lit up the arena with a pair of mixes before getting to their hit “Closer.” Then something extremely strange happened. They played the “Rocky” theme, which this reporter didn’t mind since it’s his favorite film. Then The Chainsmokers mixed it with 2 Live Crew’s 1991 vulgar dance track, “I Wanna Rock.” Now it might have not been the best choice, because of the overwhelming amount of youngsters in the arena, but it still worked. Probably none of the kids even knew anything about either song. Things got back to normal when Daya returned to the stage to perform “Don’t Let Me Down,” a collaboration with The Chainsmokers that garnered a Grammy nod.
Indeed, between the quick song references to the ’90s and the star power on stage, fans of all ages got their fill at Jingle Ball.