WRITTEN BY: Caitlin McGeehan
iHeartRadio’s 2019 Jingle Ball tour made one of its first stops in Philadelphia this past Wednesday for Q102. Each of the seven artists were allotted 25 minutes onstage, which allowed for 5-6 songs. Yes, they were all pop artists, but each continue to put their own spin on the genre with their music. From the singer-songwriters Niall Horan and Lewis Capaldi to the 7-piece K-pop group, Monsta X and TIME Magazine’s Entertainer of the Year, Lizzo, the lineup was sure to provide a nonstop, entertaining show.
What was most fascinating in watching seven artists was noticing their various performance styles. Niall Horan (formerly in One Direction) was not the only boy band associate on the bill, as the up- and-coming boy band, Why Don’t We, formed in 2016, opened the show. Interestingly, they had a mixture of choreographed routines and scripted intros to songs and unrehearsed movement (seemingly trying to blend the boy band archetype of dance routines, and the more relaxed style of One Direction’s stage antics). Most impressive was Why Don’t We’s performance of their newest single, “What Am I,” a ballad respectively written by Ed Sheeran, in which each member played an instrument (including one on the cello).
Horan and his future touring partner for his “Nice to Meet Ya” tour in 2020, Lewis Capaldi, performed back-to-back. The Scottish Capaldi acknowledged that he was a lesser-known artist, cracking jokes about it, along with a lighthearted play on words about the name “Jingle Ball.” A surprising choice, he covered Vanessa Carlton’s “A Thousand Miles” before ending with his hit, “Someone You Loved,” which came with phone flashlights waving throughout the arena. Horan followed with a balance of his slower songs such as “This Town,” and his upbeat releases such as his newest single “Nice to Meet Ya.” He addressed the crowd adoringly as “you sexy people” and told how excited he will be to return to the Wells Fargo Center in May for his tour. With his renowned charm, he jokingly warned that if you didn’t come to his tour, then, “don’t ever speak to me again.”
Dedicated Monsta X fans, Monbebes, were plenty throughout the arena, a few shown on the big screen held signs adorned with Korean characters to show their support. The group opted to perform more of their songs with English lyrics, such as “Middle of the Night.” They donned color-coordinated suits as they executed their precise choreography and formations. Unfortunately, the bass on their background track was too high, which drowned out their voices a bit.
Lizzo absolutely lived up to her “Entertainer of the Year” title, being the crowd favorite of the night. In line with her self-love anthems, she dedicated part of her set to encouraging the audience. She asked everyone to repeat a string of mantras such as, “I am my inspiration,” that ended with, “I love you, Lizzo.” She even stopped the show, pausing for 30 seconds before the powerhouse belt in “Cuz I Love You” with the biggest smile on her face, only exemplifying the gratitude for her fans that she had expressed earlier in her set.
5 Seconds of Summer began their set with their first hit, “She Looks So Perfect,” with a seamless drums and guitar-centric transition into “Easier,” which showcased their evolution as a band. As per their other performances, there was a lot of movement, with three of the four members beginning songs gathered around the drum kit, then breaking off towards their respective sides of the stage. Lead singer, Luke Hemmings traveled to all corners of the stage, even running backstage between songs to grab his guitar. Drummer Ashton Irwin conducted the crowd as he actually stood on his drums, during the additional verse of “Youngblood,” meant to further amp up the energy.
Halsey closed the show with her Santa outfit and stories behind her songs. She detailed how 2019 was possibly the best year of her life and how she no longer feels that a relationship validates her, joking about hers that were in the public eye. She spoke about how the love her fans have for her has been in front of her the whole time, and no one could love her like her fans do. She performed her collaboration with Khalid by herself, “Eastside,” and her release from December 6th, “Beautiful Stranger//Finally,” explaining what it meant to her. As a New Jersey native, she shouted out the state, and Wawa of course. She ended the night with “Without Me,” complete with her energetic dancing and pyrotechnics onstage.
Five-minute transitions between artists kept the show moving quickly, along with introductions from Q102 on-air personalities and appearances by the “Elvis Duran and the Morning Show” crew. Q102’s 2019 Jingle Ball lineup provided for an unforgettable and energetic night of performances!
Follow writer Caitlin McGeehan on Instagram @caitlinmcgeehan_ where she frequently posts about her favorite music and musicians (maybe a bit too much).