IRVINE, California — Perhaps it was the celebratory feeling of Cinco de Mayo still lingering in the air, but even with superstars Kanye West and Mary J. Blige on the bill, this year’s KIIS-FM Wango Tango clearly belonged to headliner and Latino superstar Daddy Yankee.
As Saturday’s ninth annual pop fest wound down, the reggaetón star hit the stage with his record-breaking single “Rompe,” re-creating the video with dancers from his homeland of Puerto Rico and the L.A.-based krump dancer Tommy the Clown and company.
Performing a slew of hits, like his crossover debut single, “Gasolina,” Yankee kept the crowd moving as he shouted to the audience to put one hand in the air during his performance of “Machete.” Puerto Rico’s latest export thanked the thousands of fans in attendance for their support, proving why he’s one of Time’s 100 most influential people of 2006 (see “Diddy, Daddy Yankee, Angelina Jolie Rub Elbows With Bush On Time List” ).
Yankee wasn’t the only performer who had the crowd going loco. Commanding the audience as only a queen can, Mary J. Blige had fans singing along to old-school joints like “Real Love,” “Reminisce” and “Be Happy.” Onlookers also got to watch Mary run up and down the stage and get on her knees when she sang a heartfelt rendition of one of her biggest songs, “No More Drama,” and her new single, “Enough Cryin’.”
But Mary’s night wouldn’t be complete without thanking fans for making her latest album, The Breakthrough, one of her biggest selling to date and singing the song that helped to catapult the album to the top of the chart, “Be Without You.”
Then came Kanye, who threw out several of his own hits, from “All Falls Down” and “Jesus Walks” to “Gold Digger,” “Heard ’Em Say” and “Touch the Sky.” He took things back to hip-hop’s essence, performing with only a DJ and two backup singers.
When Kanye wasn’t hitting his signature over-the-shoulder pose (à la the “Gold Digger” video) or throwing the Roc-A-Fella diamond in the air, he took listeners on a trip down memory lane by reminding the audience why he’s a force to be reckoned with on and off the mic.
West told the audience that much like fellow Def Jam artist and Wango Tango performer Ne-Yo, he paid his dues behind the scenes. Then, with a pause, the DJ began to mix in and out of some of Kanye’s well-known beats for Jay-Z, Talib Kweli and the Game.
British cutie Natasha Bedingfield was one of the up-and-comers who warmed up the crowd earlier in the day, singing her single “These Words (I Love You, I Love You).” “Wild ’N Out” host/rapper/”Gigolo” Nick Cannon was a true b-boy, rockin’ a gold rope chain and Adidas-jumpsuit-clad backing dancers. R&B crooner Ray J granted many audience members’ wishes when he performed his hit “One Wish,” and rapper Baby Bash worked the crowd with his catchy dance moves and even catchier songs.
Then with a few scratches at the DJ booth, Rihanna — the Barbadian beauty at #1 on Billboard’s Hot 100 — hit the stage, and the audience erupted. Between her Beyoncé-like booty dancing and island-inspired moves, she chanted the words of her first big single, “Pon de Replay.”
Before she performed her chart-topping single, “S.O.S.,” she thanked fans for making the single a success, then broke into her sexy dance moves like a tropical storm.
Also hitting the stage was Ne-Yo, Rihanna’s labelmate and author of her latest single, “Unfaithful” (see “Rihanna Hooking Up With Ne-Yo When She’s Done Crying ’S.O.S.’ “ ). Donning his signature hat, the new prince of R&B opted to stick to the mic and sing rather than dance his way into the hearts of the ladies in the audience when he performed his debut single, “Stay With Me”; his ode to a lovers’ quarrel, “When You’re Mad”; and his #1 single, “So Sick.”
For more sights and stories from concerts around the country, check out MTV News Tour Reports.