Live: Lady Gaga Is Z100's Homecoming Queen At The Jingle Ball

Z100 Jingle Ball: Lady Gaga, Pitbull, David Guetta, Kelly Clarkson, LMFAO, Gym Class Heroes, Demi Lovato, Foster The People, and Hot Chelle Rae w/Karmin, The Script
Madison Square Garden
Friday, December 9

Better than: A lump of coal and a "Firework" CD single.

To begin, let's run down a few key numbers related to the 2011 installment of Z100's Jingle Ball. Friday night's pop extravaganza had 11 sets; 32 full songs; five medleys; two point five holiday-themed songs; two encores; one Coldplay video; one Kardashian; and one member of LMFAO on the disabled list. Things that were present in abundance, so I didn't keep tallies: Screaming; festive attire; between-song ads; shout-outs to New York City.

I begin with statistics, because what is Z100—the East Coast top-40 flagship of the Clear Channel monolith—but a celebration of numbers? At the night's outset, Elvis Duran, host of the morning show, declared, "When you hear a song played on Z100, you know it's a hit." The artists atop the Jingle Ball's bill, with their ability to be reduced to one name—Gaga, Pitbull, Guetta, Kelly, all of whom have spent the month performing atop other Jingle Balls in other cities—bore this theory out in a sense; their sets, brief but longer than those earlier in the evening, contained only "hits," songs that might not have been familiar by title but that were sing-alongable within the first verse.

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Radio Hits One: Rock Bands (Kind Of) Return To The Pop Charts

Foster The People.
This summer, a total of four songs by rock bands (or, more precisely, pop/rock bands) have appeared in the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100: Foster The People's "Pumped Up Kicks," OneRepublic's "The Good Life," Hot Chelle Rae's "Tonight Tonight," and Maroon 5's Christina Aguilera-assisted "Moves Like Jagger" (which moved up to No. 1 on the Hot 100 this week) all rose into the chart's upper reaches during July and August. That may not seem like a large number, but when "Moves" debuted at No. 8 in July it broke a 13-month drought of rock bands of any kind reaching the Hot 100's top 10. This puts 2011 firmly ahead of 2010, when "Hey, Soul Sister" made Train the only rock band to crack the top 10 for the entire year.

Obviously, none of these songs are exactly hard rock anthems; the most memorable riffs in both "Pumped Up Kicks" and "The Good Life" are whistled, not strummed on a guitar. And of the four acts, only Foster The People have been played on rock stations, and not adult contemporary and Top 40 charts. But this quartet illustrates just how rare it is these days for any kind of rock band to climb up the Hot 100 these days, and exactly what kind of success it takes to achieve that feat.

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