The 12-city iHeart Radio Jingle Ball concert series concluded Sunday night at the BB&T Center in Sunrise, where a capacity crowd loaded with teens and tweens screamed, danced and sang through memorable sets from South Florida’s own Camila Cabello, Charlie Puth, Logic, Halsey and Demi Lovato.
For many of the Jingle Ball acts, the tour has been a test of their ability to command such big rooms — the BB&T Center is one of the largest indoor arenas in the country — perhaps validating them as the kind of act that could tour arenas on their own. Some looked more ready than others.
Cabello drew an early slot, after openers Why Don’t We, telling the crowd, “God, I’m so happy to be home.”
Conservatively stylish in black shorts, black knee-high, stiletto-heeled boots, a loose white shirt buttoned to the collar and a red lace-up vest, the Cuban-born, Miami-raised singer got the appropriately enthusiastic hometown welcome from the young, mostly female audience.
After she opened with “OMG,” the room exploded with the opening notes of “Havana.” Announcing that her new album will be released on Jan. 12, Cabello slid an electric guitar over her shoulder (more prop than necessity) for two singles from the record, the spare ballad “Real Friends” and the soaring pop-rock of “Never Be the Same.”
The tight Jingle Bell format doesn’t allow artists to engage the audience for very long, but Cabello came across as sweet and personable, and her versatile vocal talents are obvious. It was a year ago that Cabello went solo after a final appearance with Fifth Harmony at Jingle Ball 2016, and Sunday’s performance was more evidence that she made the right decision.
Greeted by a wall of shrieks, Charlie Puth put his musicianship, disarming charm and million-dollar smile on full display in a set that included hits “Attention,” “How Long,” “One Call Away” and “See You Again,” each conjuring a constellation of phone lights.
Dressed in jeans, a white T-shirt and red, high-top Chuck Taylors, his uncooperative hair propped up in a long headband, Puth’s aw-shucks appeal was irresistible. Playing a few notes on his keyboard, he even summoned an a capella version of Elvis Presley’s “Can’t Help Falling in Love” from audience members who may have no clue where the song came from.
Once strictly a songwriter, the self-described “goofball with a headband” (which he then removed) still displays a sense of awe and wonder about performing onstage to such a passionate response. He’s got the songs, the skills and the look of a star in the making.
Logic was introduced as “the voice of a new generation” Sunday night, and the biracial rapper seems ready, willing and able to assume that role.
The product of “welfare, food stamps, Section 8 housing” has taken rich, observant storytelling and a relentlessly upbeat outlook to become one of pop culture’s breakout stars in 2017, thanks in large part to his provocative hit “1-800-273-8255.”
Warm, funny and authentic, Logic’s set included riveting versions of “Gang Related,” “Flexicution,” “Fade Away” and “Everybody,” closing with “1-800-273-8255” — the anti-suicide song that takes its name from the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
As the young audience sang along, the rapper encouraged a commitment that they would be around when he returns on a tour in 2018: “I want to hear you say it, ‘I want to be alive! I'm gonna be alive!’”
Logic’s authenticity, his way with words and his mantra of “peace, love and positivity” should take him to new heights in 2018.
Halsey delivered a strong set that included “Colors,” “Now or Never,” “Bad at Love” and a surprisingly effective version of her Chainsmokers hit “Closer,” a spare, ballad arrangement of piano and vocal.
She also performed her bisexuality-themed single, “Strangers,” a duet that included Fifth Harmony’s Miami native Lauren Jauregui and which she dedicated to those who have the “courage to be themselves every day.” There was accompanying video in case you missed the point of the song.
Demi Lovato may have damaged the ceiling at the BB&T Center during a powerful, concert-closing performance of “Confident,” “Cool for Summer,” “Promise Me No Promises” (joined by Trevor Dahl of Cheat Codes), the new single “Tell Me You Love Me” and her biggest hit, “Sorry Not Sorry.”
“Tell Me” was an especially rewarding surprise, with Lovato’s powerful pipes accompanied by an organ that intertwined with soulful vocals to create almost gospel, rock-opera tone.
Nick Jonas was a likable presence, performing ballads and dance-floor hits including “Close,” “Levels,” “Chains” and “Jealous,” as well as “Home,” the acoustic-guitar ballad from the animated movie “Ferdinand.” The song was nominated last week for a Golden Globe Award.
Bouncy with an easy smile, Julia Michaels, a songwriter who said she had never performed onstage before this year, seemed genuinely overwhelmed while listening to the audience sing her songs back to her. “Issues” got the expected standing singalong, but so did her performance of hits she wrote for other artists, including “Bad Liar” and “Good For You” (Selena Gomez), “Love Myself” (Hailee Steinfeld) and “Sorry” (Justin Bieber).
All thighs and bustiers, Fifth Harmony vamped through a set that included “Worth It,” “Work From Home” and 2017 hits “Down,” “Angel” and “He Like That.” The crowd went wild.
One Direction’s Liam Payne, a man who clearly likes his own abs, did his club hit “Strip It Down,” along with the Zedd-produced “Get Low” and “Bedroom Floor” (with Charlie Puth among its writers). Just when you were ready to dismiss him as a very poor man’s Justin Timberlake, he revealed an articulate and engaging personality. Maybe it was his accent.