Virtual Concerts Can’t Dim Holiday Spirit
Even though the 2020 iHeartRadio Jingle Ball looked different than usual, the level of talent was still off the charts.
Hosted by iHeartRadio stars Ryan Seacrest and Elvis Duran, Jingle Ball was a night of big hits and holiday spirit. From Seacrest and Duran’s charming introduction to their eggnog filled conclusion, the pair made sure to interact with the audience and artists all night. It was wonderfully reminiscent of the live Jingle Ball concerts from years prior.
iHeartRadio Jingle Ball Hour One
Kicking off the night was Doja Cat, who has had the career of a lifetime amid a global pandemic. She performed her TikTok hit, “Say So,” including the fan-made dance that helped its popularity skyrocket. She also sang “Juicy” and put on a sultry performance of “Santa Baby;” perfect for the Jingle Ball theme.
Following her was the beloved Shawn Mendes, who just released, Wonder, last week. Mendes performed the lead single from his new record, “Wonder,” as well as the piano driven ”Dream.” He also sang his own version of “Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You,” originally by Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. The cover was orchestrational and theatrical, fitting Mendes’ heartfelt pop style perfectly.
Sam Smith was up next performing two hits, “Diamonds” and “Dancing With a Stranger.” Both were effortless, proving that Smith only needs their voice to put on a show. They also covered the iconic “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” which was silky smooth. The UK born singer-songwriter introduced the upcoming act, saying that, like the rest of us, they love to dance to her music.
Not surprisingly, the disco queen of modern-day, Dua Lipa, followed Sam Smith to perform two of her biggest hits. The songstress performed a stripped-down version of “Levitating,” as well as “Don’t Start Now.” These versions allowed her crisp vocals to shine through. For the Capital One Holiday Jam, fans were able to send in videos of themselves to sing along with Dua Lipa. Covering John Lennon’s “Happy Christmas,” she virtually harmonized with fans from all around the world. This moment of music and connection that iHeart planned was so special in a time of distance and isolation.
Jingle Ball’s Virtual Second Hour
Performing all three singles from his sophomore record, Fine Line, was global sensation Harry Styles. The former One Direction member and current pop icon allowed fans to hear his chart-topping and Grammy-nominated hits live. Styles switched lyrics around and added note changes here and there in “Adore You,” “Golden,” and “Watermelon Sugar”. Even through a screen Styles can put on a show.
K-pop supergroup BTS had a pre-recorded message for viewers in between the line up of 2020 iHeartRadio Jingle Ball acts. The group sang a “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” while decked out Christmas hats and holiday outfits.
With the longest set of the night was Lewis Capaldi who was dressed as Santa from head to toe. The soulful artist started his set with an anecdote about marshmallows and a cover of “Last Christmas.” Then he delved into his breakout singles, “Someone You Loved” and “Before You Go.” Between performances, the singer-songwriter reminisced about holiday memories… while dressed as Santa Claus himself.
Billie Eilish also made her mark as a Christmas fan during her Jingle Ball session. Before tackling her hit singles “My Future” and “Therefore I Am,” Eilish chatted about her favorite childhood gifts. She honestly stated that Holiday Barbie, the yearly themed doll, consistently made her happy at Christmas. Later on in her set, Eilish, alongside her brother Finneas, covered a laid-back and harmony filled version of “Silver Bells.”
Closing out the night was The Weeknd with a passionate and energetic performance of songs off his career-defining record, After Hours. The Canadian R&B performer started out with “Blinding Lights,” and then tore into “In Your Eyes” and “Save Your Tears.” Even though he did not perform any holiday songs, getting a three song streak of some of his hits was a gift unto itself. He floated around the stage, sang with feeling, and truly showed love for his very own songs. Like many of the artists, it was clear he was excited to perform during a year of few music events.