Star 94 two years ago hit it the jackpot for its Jingle Jam with the Jonas Brothers. This year, it’s Atlanta’s own Justin Bieber, who is the tween/teen poster boy of choice right now. In fact, the bulk of the crowd is gals, ages 10 to 16, with a few stray parents thrown in for good measure.
Yes, I am completely out of place here. But I’m actually here for Leona Lewis and for my Idol blog, Jordin Sparks. I saw headliner the Fray two years ago so I may skip out on them.
I got here too late for Owl City (riding the top two hit “Fireflies”) but just caught Cobra Starship, who had a No. 1 hit in the fall with “Good Girls Gone Bad.” They have that Knack-lite feel. “Cobra Starship isn’t just a band but a lifestyle,” lead singer Gabe Saporta said with a straight face.
He brought Bieber up on stage to do a drum solo. Pandering? Why not? That kid’s hot!
Leading into Cobra’s latest song “Hot mess,” Saporta said it’s not just Atlanta but “Hotlanta.” He pointed out his drummer is from Atlanta, then mentioned “Hotlanta” three more times. Yes, that word rears its ugly head again. (I just heard it in the film “Up in the Air” with George Clooney last Friday, too.)
They changed the lineup, moving “X Factor” winner Leona Lewis to the No. 3 slot and giving Justin Bieber a later spot. Lewis, after two major hits off her first album (”Bleeding Love” and “Better in Time”), her song “Happy” off album No. 2 stalled out. She did finish her set with what sounds like a fun dance tune called “Outta My Head” but who knows if it will hit the public’s fancy. She did sound great, a slightly less slutty version of Mariah Carey (with slightly less impressive pipes.). The teen crowd loved to sing the chorus of “Bleeding Love” so much they almost drowned her out.
8:45 p.m.: Justin comes out and this place goes into pandemonium. “Justin! Justin!” the crowd chants. The mop-topped 15-year-old Canadian native who created a near riot at a Long Island mall a few weeks ago has lived in Atlanta the past three years under the watchful eye of Atlanta manager Scooter Braun, who discovered him off YouTube. Usher helped get Bieber a deal with L.A. Reid’s label last year Island Records.
Bieber has since generated two top 20 hits, “One Time” and the even catchier ”One Less Lonely Girl.”
Bieber’s voice still sounds like he’s 12 and he looks about that age, too. But he truly has pipes and has the stage assurance of someone twice his age. He broke his leg at a London concert in late November and is still wearing a large cast on his right leg. Nonetheless, he was moving around the stage fairly well. He did concede to reality when he asked everyone to jump up and down by hopping on his good foot.
As a conclusion, he sang a snippet of Chris Brown’s “With You,” the song on YouTube that has been seen more than 16 million times and helped get him discovered.
I stuck around for Jordin Sparks, the season six “American Idol” winner, now 19 years old. Her latest radio single “S.O.S” is her first bomb, recently peaking in the 30s. It’s a basic ripoff of Shannon’s “Let the Music Play.” I hope the label will find a better third single off her current album to release to radio.
On stage, Sparks has a more mature haircut and far better stage presence than she did during her “Idol” days. She even pulls off a few simple dance steps. Disappointingly, she dispenses with a live band for this radio tour but does have four backup singers. At the Z100 Jingle Jam earlier this week in New York, she sang the duet of her big hit “No Air” with Justin Bieber but she went solo this time. Still, the song gives me chills to this day.
She then gave us a Christmas song, opting for a lovely a cappella version of “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” before ending with her recent top 5 hit “Battlefield.”
My colleague Robb Cohen took pictures from the concert in a gallery.