Photos by Caitlin Abrams
When I was younger, I was never the type to get too worked up over celebrities. Sure, I had my favorite boy band—the Backstreet Boys—and I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t seen them in concert, own every CD they've produced, and still have a bunch of memorabilia, but I really never understood—and still don’t—the whole screaming, crying, “marry me” meltdowns that inevitably occur every time a teen idol takes the stage.
In high school I did, however, desperately want to attend KDWB’s Jingle Ball, which it seemed the entire “popular” crowd from Minnetonka High School scored tickets to every year. But unlike my peers, I could never afford the tickets (plus, back then it was held at Myth, a way-cooler-than-me venue). So when I found out I was covering this year’s spectacular spectacular, I can’t deny that I was excited.
I could tell my boyfriend and I—both 23—weren’t the key demographic when instead of handing us temporary tattoos and glow sticks at the entrance like everyone else, we were given earplugs. My second clue came when we went to grab a drink and only had to wait 30 seconds before being served.
And then there was the scrolling Twitter feed on the Jumbotrons, loaded with “BFFs” and “baes.” And, despite my ears ringing at the end of the night, it was everything 17-year-old me has hoped it would be.
Here are my top four moments:
4. NICO & VINZ.
I had no idea who this Norwegian duo was—until I heard them sing their uber popular “Am I Wrong.” Then I was wondering how I could possibly not know them by name. It was one of the only performances my boyfriend, who typically hates overplayed music from the radio, actually enjoyed because “they used real instruments."
When I first saw OneRepublic on the lineup, I was kind of surprised. They didn’t fit in with the other pop princesses and teen heartthrobs, but they turned out to be the biggest crowd-pleaser of the evening. Singing newer songs like “Counting Stars” and classics like “Apologize” (which all the teens seemed to know even though they were, like, 10 when it came out in 2007), and even covering a portion of Sam Smith's "Stay With Me" (at which point, there was no denying the enthusiasm of the audience), this was the point of the concert when even the over-40 set was swaying along with the music and taking videos on their iPads (I’m talking to you, business execs sitting next to me). The only band of the night, they were also KDWB personality Falen’s favorite performers.
2. DEMI LOVATO SINGING "LET IT GO."
From the second Demi Lovato stepped on stage, she was a hit with the audience. But when she took a break from her own tunes to pay tribute to Idina Menzel with her own rendition of the Frozen chart-topper, she appealed to every Minnesotan in the audience and really got people in the holiday mood. Everyone was singing along—children, teens, parents, even me, who’s seen the movie at least a dozen times despite having children. Is that weird?
1. WHO RUN THE WORLD? GIRLS.
Speaking of Demi, the girls totally won the night (and by won, I mean #slay because that was the hottest word on Twitter to describe the concert). After last year’s lineup of Robin Thicke, Flo Rida, Fall Out Boy, and Enrique Iglesias, it was refreshing to see a bunch of ladies stealing the show. My favorite girl-power moments included show opener Meghan Trainor (who I think deserved a better position in the lineup), hardly known Kiesza (who had the most energy on stage, despite not many people recognizing her songs), Rita Ora (who had the coolest London-inspired jacket, but the least amount of stage time), and the Jessie J and Ariana Grande duo of “Bang Bang.” One uncool moment: When people in the audience started tweeting about Grande’s “gorgeous” thigh gap. Take note from Trainor, ladies—don’t worry about your size, every inch of you is perfect from the bottom to the top.
The show wrapped with oh-so-hot-right-now Iggy Azalea, no stranger to the cities after her University of Minnesota homecoming performance in October. I didn’t stay for her whole set—because, honestly, I think four hours is a little long for a concert—and I personally don’t think she was the best performer to close the show, only because I had a hard time keeping up with her rapping, but overall, the lineup was solid and I think it will be hard to top next year.