There may have been nine performers at KIIS FM’s Jingle Ball, but the evening of top-40 hits revolved around the new Queen of Pop, Lady Gaga.
The excitement was tangible, and grew throughout the night. Murmurs about Gaga’s forthcoming performance rippled through the audience while celebrities on the red carpet told reporters they were most excited to see her on stage.
Inisde the Nokia Theatre, Big Time Rush, Sean Paul, and Taio Cruz set a dynamic tone before Flo Rida got a shirtless ride around the venue on the shoulders of someone from his entourage during “Good Feeling.” In a flurry of lights and ear-crushing bass, French dance phenomenon David Guetta spun hits from his new album, Nothing But the Beat. The set was as visual as it was audible, with Guetta mounted on a DJ booth 15 feet in the air amid psychedelic rave lighting and giant neon robot dancers. Fans twisted their bodies to the pulse that made the shivering building seem alive.
When Lady Gaga’s unmistakable voice was finally heard doing sound checks over the mic, impassioned screams erupted from the crowd. The stage rotated to reveal a mini-Christmas set with the shining star, Lady Gaga, perched on a sculpted motorcycle in a shimmering red, barely-there leotard, complete with giant shoulder pads and blood-red leather boots.
From the moment she began to sing, it was clear that for Gaga, this wasn’t just a cameo at a radio station’s Christmas show; this was an extension of her Monster Ball. Mother Monster held a conversation with her little monsters throughout the performance, regaling the crowd with tales of her first concert (the Goo Goo Dolls, which she attended with her mother) and reminiscing about her years on tour. Before sitting down at the piano to sing “White Christmas” (which she changed to White KIISmas), she told everyone, “Always remember I was the one who told you the truth about Christmas. To everyone who's listening, Santa Claus is real.”
A theme of Christianity persisted, reflecting the controversial religious tones of her newest album. “Christmas is all about Jesus Christ, you know,” she said before jumping into “Judas.” Her hour-and-a-half set included three outfit changes, hits from her two albums, and sexually-charged dance numbers, but no lip-synching. KIIS was careful to switch camera angles whenever she turned away from the crowd, lest the backside of her thong leotard be revealed.
For the grand finale, the music video for her newly-released single “Marry the Night” played onscreen as Gaga was wheeled in on a gurney. Wearing a hospital gown, she lay in the arms of one of her male dancers like Jesus in the Pietá as he carried her offstage, saying, “They may say we’re sick, but we just love pop music.”