Taylor Swift shined as the headliner of iHeartRadio’s star-studded KIIS-FM Jingle Ball concert Friday (Dec. 1) at the Forum in Los Angeles that included incredible performances by Sam Smith, the Chainsmokers, Charlie Puth, Demi Lovato, Kesha and many more.
Despite opening the show hours earlier with acoustic versions of both “Thinking Out Loud” and “Shape of You,” Sheeran joined Swift onstage four hours later for the last song of the evening, a blazingly energetic performance of “End Game,” the second track from Swift’s Reputation, which is celebrating its third week as the number one album atop the Billboard 200 albums chart. Swift opened her set with “Are You Ready for It,” surrounded by dancers who stayed with her for songs “Blank Space” and “Shake It Off,” before she grabbed a guitar and performed an acoustic, folksy version of her 2017 electro-pop song “I Don’t Want to Live Forever,” recorded with former One Directioner Zayn.
After years at the Staples Center, KIIS-FM announced earlier this year that the popular pop radio show concert — a must play for pop stars hoping for heavy rotation on one of Los Angeles’ (and the country’s) most influential Top 40 radio stations — would move to crosstown rival the Forum, operated by Madison Square Garden and Irving and Shelli Azoff. Concert organizers set up a winter carnival outside of the Forum, while inside celebrities, artists and hundreds of kids mingled in both the building’s VIP Forum Club and backstage with performers like Halsey and reunited One Direction bandmates Niall Horan and Liam Payne, KIIS-FM’s Ryan Seacrest and stars like Late Late Show host James Corden, Lance Bass, Nicole Richie, Bella Thorne and the former California governor’s first son Patrick Schwarzenegger.
Sheeran and Swift weren’t the only surprise onstage collaboration — Lauren Jauregui of Fifth Harmony joined Halsey during her set for “Stangers,” their collaboration off of 2017’s Hopeless Fountain Kingdom, and later in the evening, Halsey reappeared to perform “Closer” during the Chainsmokers’ set, the second to last of the evening. Kesha brought out Macklemore for their song “Good Ole Days,” and Demi Lovato brought out Cheat Codes for their track “No Promises” as well as a gospel choir for her songs “Tell Me You Love Me” and “Sorry Not Sorry,” marking two of the most powerful vocal performances of the evening.
Other standouts included Charlie Puth, who delivered a surprisingly raw performance of “Attention” and later “See You Again,” while Kesha was joined by a horn section and large backing band for the delivery of the retro-Motown style “Woman” and then the monster ballad “Praying,” which is said to be an emotional account of the alleged abuse she endured while working with Sony producer Dr. Luke.
And in the spirit of the holidays, there were a couple Christmas covers, with Puth offering a classic rendition of “This Is Christmas” while rapper Logic mixing holiday standard “Deck the Halls” with his with hit “Fade Away.”