Jingle Ball 2022 Wrap Up

Jingle Ball 2022 Wrap Up


iHeartRadio Q102’s Jingle Ball 2022 at the Wells Fargo Center was an all-star lineup concert with a selection of first-time live performances.

The annual iHeartRadio Q102’s Jingle Ball 2022 is always a thrill. Sometimes, you get a brilliant quality show with a Britney and a Backstreet Boys as we did back in the day. Sometimes… not.

This week’s national iHeartRadio Jingle Ball Tour stop at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia was one of the good ones, with an all-star lineup and several firsts, namely, chart-ruling Sam Smith’s first live performances of “Unholy” with Kim Petras.

I didn’t get to the Wells Fargo in time to catch singer Nicky Youre cover of Neon Trees’ “Everybody Talks” (see, everybody was talking about it, however, when I got to my seats), but did hear Jax do “90s Kids”, and a power-punk take on Wheatus’ “Teenage Dirtbag”. How did I feel about Jax’s homemade holiday sweater? On Blitzen.

Jingle Ball 2022

For this writer, the Jingle Ball Philly’s first peak was Khalid. In my mind, the softcore R&B singer is still only showing us the tip of what he can do as a chillwave soul man, and delighted the audience with warm renditions of hits such as “Young Dumb & Broke”, “Talk” and “Location”. I don’t know that the crowd totally got Khalid, but I certainly did.

Tate McRae was electric and energetic, maybe too much, as she ran, literally, through her smash single “uh oh”, “stupid”, and “you broke me first”. I could almost say the same about henna-haired Ava Max and her fast, furious set closing with a medley of “Sweet but Psycho” and “The Motto”. But all this hyperactivity set an amply welcoming stage for AJR, Sam Smith and Kim Petras.

Jingle Ball 2022

It wasn’t as if the brothers of AJR lacked for energy. Far from it. Instead, their raging hits such as “Bang!”, “Burn the House Down”, “World’s Smallest Violin”, “Sober Up”, Weak” and “Marching Band” have nuance and the melodic detailing that made their power pop predecessors such as Raspberries or XTC dynamic.

Jingle Ball 2022
Ava Max

Dynamic, however, was the only word… Well, no. There’s more… to describe Sam Smith. While I have had my issues with the blue-eyed soul non-binary singer doing too many ballads too often, Smith’s Wells Fargo set where they stripped off an oversized tux jacket to reveal a rhinestone jumpsuit moved vibrantly from “Stay with Me” and “I’m Not the Only One” to an apt holiday rendition of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”, then after welcoming special guest Kim Petras wailing into the dance-pop smash “Unholy”.

Sam and Kim taught everyone how to do the Jingle Ball right.

And while I adore New Jersey’s answer to Billy Joel, Charlie Puth, and appreciated his star-studded and sparkly set of “Light Switch”, “We Don’t Talk Anymore”, and “Left and Right”, “This Christmas” and “See You Again”, Petras and Smith’s “Unholy” was the night’s true grand finale. A minor quibble in an exquisite energetic night.

Jingle on.

Jingle Ball 2022
Sam Smith

Images: by Dave Kotinsky, Adrianna Casiano,


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