Jingle Ball 2012
KISS 108’s Jingle Ball 2012 took place at TD Garden on December 6 in front of a packed house. Given superstar headliner Justin Bieber, the crowd was comprised almost entirely of teenage girls and the boyfriends who love them.
Ed Sheeran was the first act with a sustained set, showing off his musical skills with only a loop pedal and acoustic guitar, one he played so dynamically he broke a string. Sheeran’s hit "The A Team" is currently nominated for a Grammy, and he performed it masterfully. By the end of his set, the audience was pumped for the upcoming X Factor UK star.
Cher Lloyd strutted onto the stage to "Swagger Jagger" and sassed her way from "Oath" to "Want U Back." It was refreshing to hear a pop singer who didn’t rely at all on backing tracks to provide vocal power. She’s an obvious pop force sure to have a long career ahead.
Karmyn put on a surprisingly strong performance that far outpaced their recorded material. Spitfire rapping and a dynamically quirky visual show kept the audience on their feet and humming along despite the group still being a bit under-the-radar. Watching an eccentric redhead who does all the talking while a hot muscular guy handles the mugging and some instrumentation, one can’t escape the notion that this is the Scissor Sisters in disguise.
Train’s performance felt literally phoned in as lead singer Patrick Monohan had a distracting obsession with audience members’ cell phones. One could easily lose count of the number of times he snapped himself. The band sounded great, but the performance would’ve benefitted from Patrick acting as though he cared about his own music.
The Wanted was the biggest surprise of the night. This boy band surpasses genre expectations on every level. Great vocals, even better personalities, and an immensely comfortable stage presence left a fantastic impression on the screaming audience. Hits like "Chasing the Sun" and "I Found You" are home-run crowd pleasers.
The group also avoids the pitfall of 90s boy bands by skipping the awful dancing. A couple of members danced occasionally, but the ones with two left feet just stayed out of it. Surprisingly, the boys casually acknowledged gay fans in addition to teen girls, a move many youth-oriented groups are too scared to make.
The biggest draw of the night was Justin Bieber. The level of shrieking at his emergence was overwhelming, and he ate it up. Bieber is an odd phenomenon in that his performances are perhaps the most overt example of virgin/whore complex in male pop entertainment history. The level of crotch obsession and pouting would leave even Madonna feeling taxed.
Booty popping women surrounded the pint-sized singer as he danced and sang his way through a number of hits, with "Beauty and the Beat" and "All Around the World" being the best of the bunch. Unfortunately, Bieber seems increasingly manufactured and robotic. An entourage around him did everything from personally clipping his mic to handing him various instruments most artists would have no trouble lifting themselves. By time Bieber strips his shirt off for closer "Baby," the whole affair feels demoralizing. As critics have noted throughout the current Believe Tour, he no longer looks happy to be Justin Bieber.
The show opened with rapid-fire sets by Timeflies, Bridget Mendler, and Alex Clare, whose hit "Too Close" was the best moment prior to the bigger name artists.
KISS 108 can quite easily call the Jingle Ball 2012 a success. Bieber is critic-proof, and the majority of artists put on great shows. The thousands of teenage girls pouring out of the venue with cell phones in hand were surely texting invites to friends for Jingle Ball 2013.