If you read my review of 106.1 KISS FM’s Jingle Ball 2013 show in Everett Sunday night, you might get the impression that the whole thing was kind of a bust. Musically, you’d be right. No one sounded particularly good and there were plenty of acts that fell short (Paramore, Fall Out Boy and Austin Mahone in particular were dismal).
So what made the event interesting? For one, there was a “red carpet” portion of the night. Why the Jingle Ball felt the need to have a red carpet crammed in the bowels of the Comcast Arena is beyond comprehension but it provided a chance to snap a few pics and talk with some of top-40 radio’s biggest stars.
Despite the fact that I spent a total of five minutes with the three acts I interviewed, it was a humanizing experience. Celebrities, they’re just like us! Hit the jump for the best snippets.
While their ubiquitous, insidious single “I Love It” is starting to overstay its welcome, there’s no doubt that the future is bright for Swedish girl power pop duo Icona Pop.
Obviously it’s the holiday season now. Are you two noticing any weird differences between Christmastime in America and over in Sweden?
Caroline Hjelt: “Well, it’s going to be our first Christmas that we’re going to spend here, so I think we’re going to find a lot of differences but right now we’ve just been traveling around and we’re enjoying the Christmas feeling.”
Aino Jawo: “I think the biggest difference is that in Sweden you celebrate Christmas on Christmas Eve. By Christmas Day, it’s kind of over and you eat the leftovers, so I think we’re going to celebrate the day before.”
Your hit single “I Love It” is huge. Did you ever predict that song’s success?
AJ: “I think I’m starting to get now how big that song has been. We’ve been working so much and traveling everywhere. We just got home from Asia and people know it over there. But we’re dreamers. We have a lot of expectations but when it happens we’re of course like, ‘Wow.'”
Next up was Danish band New Politics. These affable guys were genuine and seemed happy to be part of the tour. They were also old hands at the red carpet and spent much of their time joking around with the gaggle of photographers snapping pics.
Hi guys! Talk a little bit about the challenge of playing this kind of show. You’re on stage for what, maybe 15 minutes? How do you engage with the crowd and make that connection immediately?
Soren Hansen: “Ten minutes! I think we just go and do what we do.”
David Boyd: “It’s definitely challenging. We just unplug. It’s fast.”
Louis Vecchio: “We just try to have as much fun as we can in a short period of time, which is fun because it’s like watching little mice scramble around on stage.”
Talk a little bit about being on this tour. It’s kind of a unique set-up, especially as one of the few “rock” bands on the bill.
DB: “It’s so inspiring. It’s nuts. I never would have thought about this in a million years. We started in Denmark, in Copenhagen four years ago and now we’re here. It’s just wild. What an acknowledgement. It’s really inspiring to also see how much more we have to do and work. To see all the other bands and how hard they work and where they’ve gotten to because they work and sacrifice.”
Last up, for me at least, was Flo Rida. He might have a silly name but the guy is huge. His song “Whistle” has been listened to almost 100 million times on Spotify and his hit single “Low” is still one of the most instantly recognizable rap songs around. Dressed in Jimi Hendrix camouflage, Flo Rida turned out to be a soft-spoken, genuinely nice guy — even if he couldn’t name a single Seattle rapper.
You’re the only mainstream rapper on the bill. Talk about what you bring to the show.
Flo Rida: “Aww man, my love for music. I’m definitely well-rounded. A lot of love when I perform. A couple of acts on tonight’s bill I’ve done a record with. Austin Mahone, definitely a pleasure working with him. I’m just an international artist, bringing all the different inspirations to conjure up enough music to create an album.
I’m sure you keep track of the hip hop scene. Anyone out of Seattle catching your eye right now?
FR: “To be honest, I don’t know who’s from Seattle. But today I got a chance to go visit one of the rock star legends, Jimi Hendrix’s grave site.”
What was that like?
FR: “It was amazing. That was my first tattoo, Jimi Hendrix. He’s a rock star legend. When he performs (it was) very electrifying. When I perform I’m always trying to be captivating. It was just very touching to go visit his grave site.”
And there you have it. Maybe it wasn’t groundbreaking stuff, but the red carpet worked in that it gave Sunday’s affair a touch of glamour it certainly wouldn’t have had otherwise.
-Owen R. Smith, on Twitter @inanedetails