For what Ryan Seacrest deemed “the greatest holiday party in the world,” Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran, Demi Lovato, Sam Smith, Kesha, Charlie Puth, Niall Horan, Liam Payne, Logic, Halsey, and The Chainsmokers all performed Friday night at KIIS FM and iHeartRadio’s annual Jingle Ball concert event.
An edited version of the musical extravaganza, which ran for more than four hours, is set to air Thursday, Dec. 14 on The CW, but EW was on-the-scene to provide you with the highlights from inside The Forum in Inglewood, California.
The “Perfect” opening act
California may know how to party, but they don’t know how to be in their seats when the show starts — as it took a while until the room was filled up. Those who made it, however, were treated to a shocking first performer. Impressively not just saving the biggest names for later in the evening, Ed Sheeran kicked things off with the hits: “Castle on the Hill,” “Thinking Out Loud,” “Shape of You,” and a Beyoncé-less “Perfect.” Thankfully, the four songs weren’t the last we’d see of the Grammy-winner.
Just in case that laundry list of high-profile stars wasn’t enough, there were a few surprise guests in store. Fifth Harmony’s Lauren Jauregui joined Halsey for “Strangers,” while Macklemore got a raucous reaction when he came out to perform his new single “Good Old Days” with Kesha. Also, it wasn’t surprising since she had already done her solo thing, but it was still nice to see Halsey and The Chainsmokers together for “Closer.”
Playing the hits
With most of the artists only getting to play four tracks, it would be understandable if they stuck to their newer stuff — and that’s what many of them did. But a few decided to throw it back, and each time, it was to the sheer delight of the fans. Thursday marked the four-year anniversary of Paul Walker’s death, and maybe it was just a coincidence, but on Friday, Charlie Puth basically dared the crowd to get emotional by closing with “See You Again,” the track written as a Fast & Furious send-off for the late actor. Kesha went a much different way with her final song, as she delivered the most dance-inducing 2017 Jingle Ball moment courtesy of “Tik Tok.” Sam Smith also got in on the old school fun with “Stay with Me.”
Some pretty good Logic
Three months ago, the rapper Logic gave a rousing and inspirational performance of “1-800-273-8255,” named for the number to the suicide prevention hotline, during the MTV Video Music Awards at The Forum. Logic returned to the venue on Friday for Jingle Ball and once again showed why he’s become a fan favorite. After some more upbeat songs, he brought it back to “1-800-273-8255” for another moving rendition, this time with the room lit up from almost the entire crowd’s phones. And maybe even better, the rapper was played off stage to the Curb Your Enthusiasm theme song. Pretty, pretty, pretty good job by Logic.
One Direction (sort of, but not really) reunion
While they might not have performed together or even been onstage at the same time, One Direction alums Niall Horan and Liam Payne were both part of the star-studded line-up. However, the former bandmates gave very different, but equally great sets. With Horan mostly sticking behind his guitar, Payne got loose and showed off his dance moves for “Strip That Down” and “Get Low.”
The fans were ready for it …
Jingle Ball featured numerous Grammy winners and No. 1 artists, but despite all the star power, the whole night was building towards the last performance. Even The Chainsmokers knew it. “I’ll keep it short, because I know everyone wants to see Taylor Swift,” admitted Andrew Taggart during their set, which had the unenviable task of being right before Swift. The singer’s first post-Reputation concert-setting began with images of the snake from the viral marketing campaign and a performance of the album’s first track. The end of “…Ready For It?” garnered a deafening reaction from the crowd, easily the loudest of the evening. The next two songs proved that the old Taylor isn’t quite dead, since Swift joined the throwback movement for “Blank Space” and “Shake It Off.” Next up was Swift’s part from the recently-Grammy nominated “I Don’t Wanna Live Forever” (sorry, no third former 1D member). Then, it was back to reputation with “End Game,” as Sheeran returned to the stage almost four hours after he had walked off (now, that’s a good friend). And finally, she capped off Jingle Ball by sending fans home to “Look What You Made Me Do.”
See Jingle Ball for yourself when it airs Dec. 14 at 8 p.m. ET on The CW.