Miley Cyrus and the Y100 Jingle Ball filled the BB&T Center to the rafters Friday night for a show that served as a reminder of the unique range of talent coming out of South Florida: Some of the best moments came from locals Flo Rida, Ariana Grande and Enrique Iglesias. Here are some random reactions to the nearly four hours of pop-music hits and ear-popping shrieks:
Girls rule: The Jingle Ball is for girls. There was a contingent of brave young men wandering around the show, parents in their wake, but the dominant themes of the evening were delivered in lyrics and tweets ornamented with emoticons (shown on a video crawl above the stage) aimed straight for the hearts of teen and tween girls. My 12-year-old son was trying to tell me this nicely when I invited him to go: “Can we go to the Heat game instead? You know how much I love Ben McLemore,” he implored. Only the Fall Out Boy set seemed to hold his interest.
Miley rules: Strutting onstage in a pimp-y white fur coat, leotard and boots -- accompanied by a skeezy-looking dork with a brown-bag bottle and Santa outfit, a metallic-clad gnome and a giant lady (maybe) in a Christmas tree get-up -- Cyrus arrived to an explosion of screams and applause. With her hair tied up in little knobs on her head, she’s a pixie, but radiates room-owning strength and confidence. Paired with an arena-rocking voice, there was no shortage of evidence that Cyrus is plenty big enough for the BB&T Center and AmericanAirlines Arena, where she’ll bring her headlining tour on March 22. Her acoustic version of Lana del Rey's "Summertime Sadness" was an unexpected treat, and, for the record, she did give in to the tweeted calls for her to twerk with Santa. It seemed brief and perfunctory, suggesting she may be moving on. One of the best moments of the night was watching her fans swaying arm-in-arm while belting out the lyrics to her girl-power hit “We Can’t Stop.”
Flo Rida, big jolly elf: The massive Carol City rapper hit the stage in a brown sport coat, white dress shirt, slacks and a bow tie, performing “Good Feeling” as muscle-flexing home movies played on the jumbo screen overhead. His “I Cry (Just A Little)” offered his poignant side, then the shirt, as you knew it would, came off for “Whistle.” Flo Rida was only the second biggest man in the building, as he was carried two-thirds of the way to the back of the floor seats on the shoulders of a giant sidekick dressed as Santa. Impressive. For his career-making hit “Low,” he brought a giggly gaggle of suburban tweens onstage, and as he danced and passed the mic to them to sing, Flo Rida the gangsta had been replaced by Flo Rida, gentle father figure. Also impressive.
Enrique nails it: Casual in jeans, T-shirt and military-style cap, the Miami singer cranked out a blistering set that owed more to the industrial crunch of Nine Inch Nails than the digitial prettiness of his nightclub sound. On “I Like How it Feels” and “Heart Attack,” he was Enrique the Rocker. With giant balloons emblazoned with “ei” falling from the ceiling, the room-shaking anthem “Baby, I Like It” featured Iglesias touring the length of the floor seats on a cart, stopping to leap on a small stage to gyrate for fans in the cheaper (still pricey) seats. Enrique, man of the people. As he performed, we got the tweet of the night over the stage: “The only person who could possibly love Enrique more than me is my mom!”
Grande time: “The last time I was here I sang the National Anthem at a Panthers’ game when I was 8,” former Boca Raton resident Ariana Grande informed the crowd. “I’m so happy to be back home!” Clearly the feeling was mutual as the star of Nickelodeon’s “Sam & Cat” showed off the range of her vocal skills. Her hit “The Way” was accompanied by Mac Miller rapping along on the big screen, topped by a parade of “I luv The Way!” tweets. Memorable moments: Grande’s take on the “Wham!” hit “Last Christmas,” and an evocative, acoustic version of “Honeymoon Avenue,” a song she called her favorite off the album “Yours Truly.”
Loose ends: Poor Fall Out Boy. Following Flo Rida's warm-and-fuzzy moment with the girls on "Low," their black-wall-of-gloom rock was not the most advantageous segue, but the crowd was plenty warmed up by the time FOB lit them up with "My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark." They win the Best Pyro award, too ... Austin Mahone (ski cap in Florida, really?) went over well, but all we could think about was how indistinguishable he is from Weston rapper Jake Miller ... Jingle Ball is really a great way to fulfill the parental requirement to enjoy (or be subjected to) a lot of the bands your kids want to see: four or so hit songs from each and, bam, the stage is cleared for the next act. Even better, it was a full arena, but there were minimal lines for bathroom, food and drink, especially the beer/booze stations. Thanks, Santa!