Billboard’s inaugural Hot 100 Festival has come to a close, and a weekend full of amazing music and positive beach vibes made our stay at Nikon at Jones Beach Theater in Wantagh, N.Y. one to remember. As fireworks exploded over the venue on Sunday night (Aug. 23), we couldn’t help but look back on two days of incredible performances — every artist that took the three Hot 100 Fest stages had something special to offer, but these 10 exceeded all expectations and proved to be downright dazzling.
Check out our countdown of the top 10 performances of the 2015 Hot 100 Fest, and relive some of the weekend’s great music:
10. Christina Milian
Even without her on-stage cameo from boyfriend Lil Wayne, Christina Milian served R&B sass at the Beach stage on day one of the fest, making her 20-minute slot a certified standout. The singer worked the sizable crowd with singles including “AM to PM” and “Dip It Low,” bringing out Weezy to help her out on new single “Do It.”
9. X Ambassadors
The Ithaca, N.Y. quartet hit a technical snag at the beginning of their early afternoon slot on day two, riffing an extended outro of their second song as front man Sam Harris fumbled with wires to plug in keyboardist Casey Harris’ equipment. But that didn’t stop them from killing their set, a powerful showing of tracks from their recent debut full-length VHS.
It’s true that Santigold’s backup dancers handed out donuts to the front of her crowd midway through her Hot 100 Fest performance, but the Dunkin’ collection was far from the most delectable treat during the hour-long set. With an oversized bow adorning her hair, Santigold turned in an animated set full of her most riotous dance hits, including a boisterous take on “Creator” in which dozens of crowd members gyrated next to her onstage.
7. Axwell ^ Ingrosso
Axwell & Ingrosso brought their A-game to Jones Beach on Saturday night, delivering a chill-inducing performance packed with hits. The former Swedish House Mafiosos delighted their rapt Hot 100 stage audience with singalong standards “Don’t You Worry Child” and “Save the World,” as well as post-SHM singles “Something New” and “Sun is Shining.”
6. Fetty Wap
With multiple Top 10 hits now under his belt, Fetty Wap has proven to be way more than just “Trap Queen” — although his breakout hit provided one of the weekend’s most dizzying high moments. The Paterson, N.J. native flew into Hot 100 Fest as one of the year’s most inescapable success stories, and commanded a crowd that was so large, concertgoers chose to stand in the parking lot of Jones Beach Theater in order to hear his sing-rap antics.
5. Justin Bieber
Justin Bieber made a triumphant return in his seven-song closing set of the festival. While he eschewed teasing his forthcoming single, fans were more than satisfied hearing him sing (and impressively dance) his way through a handful of old hits. His triumphant closer with Skrillex, “Where Are U Now,” sent the festival out on a high note.
4. Little Mix
Little Mix’s Saturday afternoon set was the first powerhouse performance of the weekend, and it wound up enduring as one of its best. The sun was beating down, but Perrie Edwards, Jesy Nelson, Jade Thirwall and Leigh-Anne Pinnock stormed through a power-mix of the group’s best songs, including “Salute,” “Change Your Life,” and an a capella rendition of “How Ya Doin’.”
3. Jason Derulo
Jason Derulo scored one of the biggest successes of his career this year with “Want To Want Me,” and while that dance-pop gem ignited his set’s loudest sing-along, his many chart hits and pinpoint dance moves were equally as impressive. Whether wiggling, talking dirty or riding solo, Derulo has become a preeminent stage presence, and his Saturday afternoon performance included zero lowlights.
2. Nicki Minaj
Sure, the Harajuku Barbie was a half-hour late to her 70-minute set, and yes, she battled mic issues at the beginning of “Truffle Butter.” But overcoming the snafus showed just how dynamic she could be. With a team of backup dancers, Nicki played hit after hit after hit, right up until closer “Starships” that got an overwhelming response.
1. The Weeknd
The Weeknd is a true star, and a star of his own making. Live, he’s an R&B singer who fronts a rock band and can slay a cover of Beyoncé’s “Drunk in Love.” Playing after dark near the water was such a perfect setting that even a U.S. Coast Guard ship pulled up to catch Abel Tesfaye hypnotize with nocturnal mixtape cuts like “High For This” and “The Morning,” and then get the crowd moving with “Can’t Feel My Face.” The Weeknd ended Saturday in style, and was the most unforgettable performer of the weeknd — er, make that weekend.