It’s a good thing 90 percent of the sold-out crowd at Monday’s Jingle Ball concert weren’t old enough to drink. One long beer line might have resulted in fans missing two or three acts in the hyperactively paced, 3½-hour turnstile of nine different 2017 pop hitmakers.
Instead of a hangover, a good portion of the 15,000 fans at Xcel Energy Center will only have to endure a hoarse voice come Tuesday morning. The extra-short set times — 10 to 25 minutes was it for each one — allowed for an extra dosage of male hunkage, including newly solo One Direction members Niall Horan and Liam Payne, “One Call Away” hitmaker Charlie Puth, the new 1D-like boy band Why Don’t We with Stillwater teen Jonah Marais and the very old (by comparison) pop-punk band Fall Out Boy.
There was still ample girl power in the concert, too, with Kesha and Halsey giving two of the strongest and savviest sets of the night, while ex-Fifth Harmony singer Camila Cabello delivered the current biggest hit of the night, “Havana.”
The sets happened so fast, it was hard to guess who was lip-syncing and who wasn’t. It was easy to pick out the ups and downs, though.
Biggest screams of the night: Puth earned a giant screech for his light piano hit “One Call Away,” part of an otherwise uneven set mired by some technical glitches and his own apparent indifference. Another ear-splitter came when G-Eazy showed up as a surprise guest with Halsey to deliver their single “Him & I.”
And the mere appearance of Horan sparked an eruption, though the Irish star’s mellower, plodding hits “This Town” and “Slow Hands” actually screamed to be played in romance movies and Hallmark card stores instead of at an otherwise high-energy concert.
Longest sets: Kesha and Fall Out Boy each got a whopping 25 minutes, though Kesha inexplicably was pushed into a middle slot while Fall Out Boy got the final set — another case of older white men taking away a woman’s deserved job.
Best set: Yep, Kesha. The long-wigged, big-voiced singer commanded the stage far better than everyone else, starting with funky and fiery opener “Woman,” and on through the Adele-flavored power ballad “Prayin’ ” and the spazzy closer “Tik Tok.” Her voice was deeper, meatier and more soulful than any of the male singers, and “Take It Off” rocked harder than anything in F.O.B.’s shopworn set.
Best newcomers: If you consider the One Direction fellas newbies, then Payne passed Monday’s audition the most convincingly. His slinky hits “Strip That Down” and “Bedroom Floor” sparked heavy dancing in the crowd, and he offered some pretty slick moves himself. Cabello also proved to be far more than a one-hit-wonder as she ended with the swaying and soaring anthem “Never Be the Same.”
Best makeover: Halsey cunningly stripped away the Chainsmokers’ vanilla-flavored electronica production in “Closer,” turning it into a straight piano ballad to great effect.
Try again later: The five-member boy band Why Don’t We was surprisingly low-key for the first five of its 10 minutes but finally kicked in with the Drake-lite single “These Girls.” Nickelodeon star Sabrina Carpenter hit a few off-key notes in her hit “First Love” but did pull off a polished “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” the only nod to the holidays in the concert. Well, besides KDWB’s onslaught of commercials between sets.