Seven hours of slick radio dance pop is a lot to handle.
Yet that's what a capacity crowd - mostly female 'tweens and teens - faced happily when it filled Wells Fargo Center on Wednesday for Q102's Jingle Ball 2011 with Kelly Clarkson, LMFAO, Big Time Rush, David Guetta, Avril Lavigne, Demi Lovato, All Time Low, Joe Jonas, Flo Rida, Cobra Starship, Patrick Stump, Gym Class Heroes, Karim, and JoJo.
It's impossible to love every note of anything lasting 420 minutes. Yet, it was surprising how much of this live band-heavy show was winning, and was devoid (to this reviewer's ears) of the Auto-Tune frippery predominant in pop-hop.
Jingle Ball was a sweet rush, save for the shrill boy-band Big Time Rush (whom kids cheered the hardest) and the lumpy, blue-eyed soul of Patrick Stump. The latter, the ex-leader of Fall Out Boy, was decent, but annoyingly wrong for this crowd. The former, an overly choreographed Nickelodeon-based quartet of vocalists, was unpleasant. Their odd reflective suits and long set managed to make the thought of childhood repellent.
LMFAO (minus the flu-ridden SkyBlu) might be dumb Hollywood electro-rap, yet the ubiquitous "Party Rock Anthem" was wildly contagious. Fuzzy-headed Redfoo and his dancers added rudeness to the scrubbed-clean festivities by stripping to their skivvies and gyrating lewdly. MC Flo Rida yanked off his tank top while rapping through the galloping blues of "Good Feeling" during his solo set. Rida made a second appearance as the lone vocalist on "Where Them Girls At" during producer David Guetta's flashy DJ set. The anxious Gym Class Heroes kept their clothes on during their set of hits. Cheery Travie McCoy was the only vocalist dressed for the holidays with a Santa-ish woolen cap.
Lovato was a high, mighty singer whose faux-epic melodies sounded oddly like Coldplay. Lavigne proved she was still power pop's kitten-with-a-whip, who can feign tenderness with ease (in her vulnerable new "Wish You Were Here").