Music streaming service platform Pandora is celebrated for its song recommendation engine, and Beyond 2018, Pandora’s free New York concert, was an extension of that on Tuesday night. The all-woman lineup — Cardi B, Julia Michaels and DaniLeigh — dominated the event by introducing new tracks to listeners and lacing Terminal 5’s RSVP-only crowd with chart-topping performances. With Pandora listeners packed from the floor to VIP mezzanine, Pandora created one of the city’s most memorable evenings prior to the annual industry holiday festivities.
“Do I got any Latinas in here tonight? Make some motherfucking noise! Did you come to see the queen?” DaniLeigh’s DJ queried. Sirens blared, and a snippet of an unreleased track looped introducing the Def Jam starlet. Sporting blond curly locks, a yellow KidSuper tracksuit and white Air Force 1 kicks, DaniLeigh spun toward center stage. “You know this is like one of my favorite cities, right?” she asked, blanketed by the purple spotlight. A bass-rattling record she introduced as “Family Only” dazzled the audience, while two dancers made their way to the stage in coordinating track jackets & black sweatpants.
Pandora Beyond 2018 became a glowing listening session, where the songstress kept the event going by testing out her freshly waxed catalog. The Aretha Franklin-sampling tune “All I Know” made her fans scream, “I know I can’t afford to stop!” as DaniLeigh beamed her megawatt smile in approval. The seductive R&B moment was brief, as she postured herself as the sturdiest entertainer of the night — Milly Rocking into her first hip-hop dance break. “Y’all already know I’m Dominican! ¿Qué lo qué?” she questioned with a chuckle. An untitled Spanish-language trap record played — the first of its kind for the rising newcomer.
“I want to say thank you guys for watching me tonight. It means a lot to me. My album will be dropping on Nov. 30. That is all this music you are hearing now,” she explained. A chopped & screwed beat knocked, proving this new LP will be as versatile as her well-known footwork. The singer danced to the soon-to-be-released lullaby “Easy” by herself. Glistening in sweat, DaniLeigh lifted her oversized jacket to show off a teeny-tiny waistline. Pandora’s showgoers raved in approval, and her vibe was refreshing, as it remains all her own. The viral ditty “Blue Chips” kept eyes glued to her with its hypnotic familiarity in preparation for her closing number.
“Y’all ready? I need you to get dumb hype with me, aight?” DaniLeigh barked. The anthemic bop, “Lil Bebe,” rang through Terminal 5, causing the most spectator participation of her set. Enthralled by the praise, DaniLeigh waved off and professed, “I want to thank my friends, the new fans and supporters. I love you.”
Twirling from outside the right curtain’s wing, in a black bedazzled minidress and sneakers, Julia Michaels knew how to make an entrance, giving a high kick into the melodic “Pink.” Alongside two guitarists, the Mexican-Puerto Rican star kept onlookers’ attention with nude fishnets, knockout vocals and bubbly stage presence. Visibly lost in the music, Michaels belted her verses on Clean Bandit’s “I Miss You,” as if she’ll be longing for the love that once was forever. “Thank you so much for coming tonight. This is so awesome! Today is especially special since it is my birthday,” she said as her eager loyalists charged closer to the security gate.
Devotees began shouting “Happy birthday,” as Michaels transitioned into her haunting Fifty Shades Freed tune “Heaven.” Dancing seductively under flickering fuschia strobes, she controlled the venue’s vibe. Even so, she swiftly walked the assemblage back into heartbreak. The ballad “Worst in Me” highlighted the gritty texture of her voice and twisted concertgoers’ emotions with its painful truth. Collecting herself, she set off to make everyone in attendance a believer: “So, some of you guys know me as an artist. What a lot of you guys don’t know is I am a songwriter for many other people. I’d like to sing some of those songs for you tonight.”
Cheers ensued as the acoustic versions of songs Michaels co-wrote began. To date, 18 of her co-penned tracks have reached the Billboard Hot 100, and the medley of her hits showed beyond doubt she is a genius writer. Selena Gomez’s rhythmic “Bad Liar” opened the sing-along and Anne-Marie’s earworm “2002” made the Pandora mass belt each line with enthusiasm. Hailee Steinfeld’s feel-good sentiments on “Love Myself” rang out as affirmations, before creating a sexy moment with Selena Gomez’s “Good for You.” Pausing as if she already knew the reaction that was coming, Justin Bieber’s apologetic “Sorry” powered up her avid supporters as they lyrically begged for forgiveness.
“That was rad, New York. Woo! Since we’re in the mood for singing tonight, repeat after me,” Michaels instructed. Lying on the stage, Michaels’ passion grabbed hold of new believers; and even had them chanting “Uh Huh”’s suggestive chorus behind her. Still, the artist rose to her feet graciously. “Give it up for DaniLeigh. Who is ready for Cardi B? I am so happy I get to be here with you guys. This is my last song. Please sing along.”
The first few notes of “Issues” strummed, and before Michaels could get a word out, the Beyond Pandora crowd was spastic. Grabbing her chest with fulfillment, she raised her microphone to encourage the voices below. The imperfect love chorus — “‘Cause I got issues/ But you got ’em too/ So give ’em all to me/ And I’ll give mine to you” — chimed in loudly enough to make the walls vibrate. Doing their best to catch a final glimpse of her performance, a few listeners sat on each other’s shoulders. Michaels segued through “Issues” with heartfelt gratitude and left it all on the stage.
Erecting a platform beneath the glowing Pandora emblem, Cardi B’s climb of an entrance on “Get Up 10” was as monumental as her position on the charts. The crowd’s monstrous screams didn’t distract from a single bar or the breath control necessary for the record’s lyricism. With her point made and her hands on knees, Cardi B kicked into Pardison Fontaine’s “Backin’ It Up” and the MC did just that. Her saucy contribution to the new Hot 100 entry inspired her first revelation: “You know my whole album went gold or platinum, bitch! What’s good? But this is the only song on [Invasion of Privacy] that hasn’t gone gold or platinum, yet. I don’t get it! This is one of my favorites.” Cardi B flung her tasseled jacket at her DJ, unleashing “Money Bag” and six dancers’ hips simultaneously.
In all black, their stealthy transitions where almost militant — before the headliner, pounced down for the verse that made G-Eazy’s “No Limit” a smash. Halting the music, she professed, “This song right here, I did it for all my bad bitches, and all my ugly bitches too.” With YG’s ad-libs blaring and her pin-straight gray hair flinging, Cardi B showed her dancers what the song was meant for on “She Bad.”
An engine revved, and her devotees yelled the “Motorsport” verse word-for-word. Cardi B showed out until her DJ began dropping bombs. “This single right here is called ‘Money’ and as a motherfucking go-getter, I love money, bitch,” she laughed with her tongue exposed. And her latest cash-flow bop played seamlessly into her Migos-co-signed “Drip.” “I done gave y’all n—as a whole lot of energy. I got to slow it down because my ass is looking serious,” she said looking back at her sequin skirt. Fans sang Kehlani’s song introduction in the songbird’s absences — and “Ring” was a definitive favorite with “Thru Your Phone,” and “Be Careful” to follow.
Hitting pause on her vivacious set, Cardi B ran backstage, as a slew of her breakout features looped, emphasizing her cross-genre success. Soon, the rapper marched out in latex heels for Ozuna’s bilingual jam, “Taki Taki.” “I did not know this record was going to be so big. Bitch, this song is about to surpass, ‘Bodak Yellow.’ It’s going to be six times platinum in this hoe,” Cardi B giggled. An enhanced version of “I Like It” embraced her Dominican-Trinidadian roots, before the twerk-worthy “Bickenhead” showed love to her hometown of The Bronx.
Determined for her set to create a full-out party, she launched into “Finesse” with the same intensity as its colorful music video, and admirers crooned Bruno Mars’ chorus with ease. “Bartier Cardi” brought rock-star excitement, as supporters rioted throughout the trap-tinged banger. “Let’s get into this shit. I gotta go home to my baby. She gotta little cold,” she said, as her followers awed over the mention of newborn, Kulture. “Bodak Yellow,” her first-ever Hot 100 No. 1 record, solidified Cardi B’s superstardom and a year later, it has not lost its infectious touch. Finishing strong, Cardi B blew kisses towards her fans saying, “Ladies and gentleman, I had a good time. Thank you for supporting me. I ain’t shit, but I still love you.” Pandora balloons dropped over rooting devotees chanting her name in hopes of an encore.