TAMPA — Let's be brutally honest: The only reason I wanted to cover Sunday's 93.3 Jingle Ball at the St. Pete Times Forum was to see the Ting Tings, the British indie-pop duo semifamous for cocky strut Shut Up and Let Me Go.
The only reason an entertainment editor wanted me to review the WFLZ-sponsored event -— besides the fact that this editor is inherently demonic — was because of Adam Lambert, the American Idol screech boy who agreed to host the five-hour show (yes, f-i-v-e).
But the Ting Tings bailed at the last second, which happens at these radio fests, where a smorgasbord of the latest one-hitters are hyped (hello, Leona Lewis!), but you're lucky to see half the promised fluff come showtime (bye, Leona Lewis!).
And Lambert was paid fat bags of cash not to sing but to sign autographs in the not-as-cool-as-it-sounds "Celebrity Club" and spend a few dull seconds onstage with 93.3's Todd "MJ" Schnitt and Dave the Dwarf. Unfortunately, Glambert kissed neither the radio guy nor the little person. Lame!
So accompanied by 4,493 16-year-old girls, I glumly sat through a cavalcade of utterly disposable, inherently '09 also-rans, most of whom were given meager minutes on a bare stage before being kicked off in favor of another act equally desperate to stay on the radio longer than Right Said Fred.
Oy. If I never hear someone shout "Make some noise!" again, it'll be too soon.
Bradenton's We the Kings, a likable emo-rock foursome with legit chops, were given time for just three songs, including Check Yes Juliet. Not nearly as adept in the Sensitive Rock Guys Department, but given more time to bore later in the evening, were Boston's Boys Like Girls, who performed an unironic cover of the Black Eyed Peas' I Gotta Feeling.
Island pop is hot, if not very interesting, so naturally the Jingle Ball had three (yes, t-h-r-e-e) practitioners of that genre: Iyaz, Jason Derulo and Sean Kingston. The dopey boys in nerd-pop duo 3OH!3 suffered without a music video and models to make them the slightest bit appealing. But I'll allow that Tik Tok songstress Kesha had a fishnetted Gaga thing going on. She's cool — although if Hef calls, she should probably pick up.
Rap was represented well by Miami's Pitbull, who had mondo charisma and thumpin' percussion. Although her R&B was sterile, Idol champ Jordin Sparks gets credit for doing a lovely a cappella version of I'll Be Home for Christmas. And show closer the Fray was like Elton John without wacky glasses or, ahem, any semblance of personality.
I'm not saying pop is dead, ladies and gentlemen. But let it be noted that the biggest sing-alongs of the night were for a DJ spinning Journey's Don't Stop Believin' and Bon Jovi's Livin' on a Prayer.
Sean Daly can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8467. His Pop Life blog is at blogs.tampabay.com/popmusic.