Taylor Swift Celebrates Her 25th Birthday at the Z100 Jingle Ball to Screams of Adoration

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(Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for iHeartMedia)
Taylor Swift performs onstage during iHeartRadio Jingle Ball 2014, hosted by Z100 New York and presented by Goldfish Puffs at Madison Square Garden on December 12, 2014, in New York City.
Better Than: Listening to these pop hits at a bar filled with SantaCon goons.

Attending Z100's Jingle Ball is like being thrust into a crash course on what's dominating today's Top 40 charts. On December 13 at Madison Square Garden, the annual holiday concert bill was the largest it's ever been: Sixteen different performers took the stage, many of them returning more than once for duets and collaborations over the course of the four-hour performance. As a result, the holiday show's pace was relentless and sometimes individual sets were so brief that only one song (or a dizzyingly fast medley) was spit out by the fresh-faced pop stars in the spotlight. The hurried pace of the night launched the audience into a state of constant stimulation -- it's a similar sensation to flipping through TV channels or absentmindedly surfing YouTube videos.

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Jingle Ball 2003: The Time A Simple Plan Was Billed Over Jay Z and Beyonce

Categories: Jingle Ball

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YouTube
Destiny's Christmas
It's the most wonderful time of the year. The stockings are hung, the lights are shining bright and that can only mean Z100's Jingle Ball is near! One of New York's most beloved traditions, since 1993 the Jingle Ball has served as both the holliest AND jolliest of non-stop pop performances, as well as something of an important snapshot of the year in music.

With Friday night's Jingle Ball set to feature Miley Cyrus, Robin Thicke, Pitbull, Paramore, Enrique Iglesias, Fall Out Boy, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Selena Gomez, Fifth Harmony, Ariana Grande, Jason Derulo, and Austin Mahone, we thought we'd take a look back at the line-up of a decade ago, as well as put on our archeological caps and dig for contemporary blogs of the time to get a feel for how the show was received. Go 'head baby, get ready to get Jinglin' with us all the way back to Jingle Ball 2003.

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

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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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Six Awful Things About Karmin's "Crash Your Party"

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Tonight is Z100's Jingle Ball—headlined by Lady Gaga! with a set by Kelly Clarkson!—and the top-40 station's annual celebration of its playlist's biggest stars will be co-hosted by the duo Karmin, a pair of Berklee-educated musicians from Boston who rose to prominence earlier this year with a competent, semi-serious cover of "Look At Me Now." As you might expect, the "white people performing a self-consciously jokey version of an urban hit" trope was a big hit among those who read the Internet, and Karmin even honored the social-news site Reddit for its support in the video for its cover of Lil Wayne's "6'7'." (This comment on that clip has 60 "likes": "u turn shit in to music." Hooray!) Earlier this fall they released their first major-label single, the Black Sheep-sampling attention-hog dis "Crash Your Party," and, well... imagine a boot covered in pictures of Pomplamoose and Jessie J and the band that white-boy covered "Boyz N The Hood" a few years back stomping on a human face. Forever. Six specific problems with it after the jump.

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Live: Justin Bieber Provokes Squeals, Enrique Iglesias Asks a 16-Year-Old On A Date, And Katy Perry Rules All at Z100's Jingle Ball

Z100's Jingle Ball, featuring Katy Perry, Justin Bieber, Paramore, Kim Kardashian, and More
Madison Square Garden
Friday, December 10

Better than: That GIF of sparks coming out of Katy Perry's chest from the "Firework" video.

Yes, Katy Perry looked like a human nutcracker at this year's Z100 Jingle Ball. But let the record also show that she did not take the opportunity to make a single "nutcracker" or "jingle ball" joke during her performance. Perhaps this uncharacteristic display of restraint had something to do with the audience. This is the show where MSG replaces the price-gouging Budweiser booths with price-gouging Sugar Daddies stands. It was probably the first-ever concert for many of the pre-teen girls in attendance. And Perry is well aware of this--you don't become the by-the-book pop star of the year and see all three of your singles hit number one without some idea of demographics. She tailored her location-based shout outs accordingly: "What's up Connecticut?! Jersey?! Can't forget good old Long Island!" (Full disclosure: I grew up on Long Island.)

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