NEW YORK — It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, and we got further proof on Friday night when Z-100 hosted their annual holiday-themed concert, Jingle Ball. Some of the biggest heartthrobs in the music business hit the stage at Madison Square Garden, making this year’s show particularly swoon-worthy. One Direction, The Wanted and Justin Bieber were just some of the hotties who played the gig.
1D kicked it off, just five nights after taking the stage at MSG for their own headlining gig, and they didn’t disappoint during their high-octane mini-set. If “Live While We’re Young” wasn’t enough to get the crowd hyped, Harry Styles made sure to do the job, shouting, “Jingle Ball make some noise!” before the U.K. boy band launched into “One Thing” and “Little Things.”
Their final song of the night was their star-making track “What Makes You Beautiful,” with just a dash of pyro thrown in for good measure. “We’ll see you in the New Year,” Niall Horan said before welcoming former tourmate Olly Murs to the stage. Murs gave the room a taste of what’s to come on his 2013 U.S. release when he played “Heart Skips a Beat” and “Troublemaker.”
The hits kept coming thanks to Taylor Swift. With a big logo reading “Red” behind her, she took the stage in a sparkly gold top and red shorts. “State of Grace” was only made more dazzling by Swift’s big smile, which lit up the room. She followed that with hits like “You Belong With Me.” The singer’s set was full of her nice-girl swagger, especially in her folksy back and forth with the audience.
“I’m Taylor,” she said. “I’m so honored to be here at Madison Square Garden and you are so loud, New York City. I was thinking because this is such an unforgettable night … I think if you scream loud enough, Ed Sheeran might come out.” On cue, her red-headed pal came out to perform “Everything Has Changed.”
After asking the room if they wanted to dance, Swift busted out “Love Story,” and then the crowd-favorite “I Knew You Were Trouble.” But it wouldn’t be a night without hearing “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together.” If any fans were harboring grudges over Swift’s rumored romance with One Direction’s Harry, it didn’t show as they screamed their hearts out over her.
Next up were the punctuation-loving acts of the night: B.o.B brought some hip-hop swag to the show, performing standout tracks like “Magic,” “Beautiful Girls” and “Airplanes” and, for a nice surprise, he brought Swift back out for “Both of Us.” Grammy-nominated Fun. also hit the stage, kicking off a lively set with “Some Nights,” and continuing with anthems “Carry On” and “We Are Young.”
Things slowed down a bit when Sheeran returned to the stage (wearing a Santa hat). The very mention of his name made the girls go crazy and he treated them to “Lego House,” kicking off the most stripped-down set of all the performances. During the set, he even revealed that it was the first time that he had ever performed “Everything Has Changed” with Swift.
The Wanted picked up the pace again, providing some fist-pumping tunes. The rumor Friday night was that Lindsay Lohan, a fan of the group, was backstage, but onstage, all that the fivesome seemed to care about was making the crowd dance to “Chasing the Sun,” “All Time Low,” “I Found You” and the firework-ready “Glad You Came.”
Ne-Yo, U.K. singer Cher Lloyd and Jason Mraz brought Christmas songs, dance-floor anthems and a nonstop barrage of party tracks to Jingle Ball in separate sets. But the night ended on the ultimate high note as the Biebs closed out the massive show. Surrounded by all-female dancers and done up in a red shirt, Justin Bieber kicked off the loudest, screamiest set of the night with “All Around the World.”
“Every time I’ve been in New York City, I always see so many beautiful girls and I was thinking, what’s a beauty without a beat?” he wondered out loud.
“Beauty and a Beat” kept the party going, and Justin’s slick dance moves filled the set’s dubstep breakdowns. Bieber decided to “slow it down,” though, for a few acoustic performances. As he crooned out his slow jam “Be Alright,” he slowly took off his red shirt, leaving just his tank on; lots and lots and lots of excited cheers followed. Next, he got out his guitar for “Fall,” and got us all into the holiday spirit with “Christmas Eve” and “Mistletoe.”
As he wrapped his acoustic set with “As Long As You Love Me,” the full band and backup dancers joined him again. “Are you sure you don’t want me to leave?” he asked the room before playing “Boyfriend,” with a bit of a remix breakdown. He literally dropped the mic and walked off once it ended, but came back for the signature Bieber track “Baby.” Displaying some Marky Mark-infused onstage antics, he peeled off his tank, sang with no shirt on and then threw it into the audience. That seemed like the only way to end the night.
The party wasn’t quite over when the four-hour show ended, however. As fans piled into the streets, Bieber surprised everyone by poking his head out of his SUV’s sunroof while pulling away from the venue. More madness ensued for a few minutes, before his car finally pulled away.
Who’s your favorite act from the Jingle Ball lineup? Tell us in the comments!