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Miley Cyrus and crew deliver frantic fun at Jingle Ball


For those of you who don't approve of Miley Cyrus and her perpetually percolating backside, I have potentially good news. There may be, ahem, an end in sight. After all, when a tongue-wagging gal has the gumption to grind up on a besotted Santa, that's pretty much the pinnacle of caboose calisthenics.

Where does she twerk from here? The Easter Bunny?! Wait, maybe she's done that already. Quick, somebody get me a randy fact-checker.

The puckish pop star, whose winky button-pushing matches her legit talents, closed out 93.3 FLZ's Jingle Ball at the Tampa Bay Times Forum on Wednesday, a 31/2-hour visceral, hit-or-miss spin through the modern radio dial. The future of music remains unclear at best, but hey, this was all about the now. Have fun, live it up and don't think too hard, boys and girls.

If you didn't dig something during the show (say, the milquetoast harmonizing of Fifth Harmony), you only had to wait a few minutes and a new face (Travie McCoy and his beachy hip-hop or pro party-thrower Flo Rida and his life-affirming smash Low) was ushered on stage, a fun, silly, nine-act event tailor-made for our attention-deficient times. The crowd of 10,732 had a flat-out blast.

This was the ultimate Miley tease in more ways than one. The 21-year-old singer will be back in this same venue for a full-fledged concert March 20. For now, we had to settle for about 30 minutes of sass and megahits, including mini set opener Party in the U.S.A., which even the most jaded indie hipster has to admit is a totally killer tune. C'mon, dude, just give in to the goodness.

In the spirit of seduction, we'll get back to Miley in a bit.

A cleverly rotating stage allowed several acts to feature full bands, giving their small (and profitable — this is a cushy gig for sure) sets memorable oomph. Robin Thicke proved he's more than Blurred Lines, although that's not too shabby of a legacy. Backed by a swinging old-school funk band, the suave, black-suited singer delivered an extended take on his ubiquitous hit. The R&B star's current single, Give It 2 U, was also built on a sexy, natural groove.

Enrique Iglesias seemed a little tuckered at first, but his turn, jacked by chart-toppers Tonight (I'm Lovin' You) and I Like It, built to a frenzied finish as balloons de Iglesias rained from the rafters when he entered the girl-strong throngs to tizzied, screamy delight. Good set, great surprise.

Some of the DJ-only acts weren't nearly as compelling. Bieber 2.0, aka Austin Mahone, had the female adoration if zero original chops, and Nickelodeon star Ariana Grande has a cozy hit, The Way, but was swallowed by the stage. R&B stud Jason Derulo packed his set with chiseled abs, active pants and plenty of hits (It Girl, Ridin' Solo) but mumbled over bass-heavy backing tracks.

Soon enough, though, it was Miley Time. MTV's artist of the year can whip up a crowd, for sure, prefacing her set with the purity of a clip from the Peanuts Christmas special. But Linus fuzzed to black — and then she was spanking reindeer and a giant dancing tree and a silvery little person. (Just go with me on that last one.)

Dressed in a cheeky yuletide-red leotard, white boots and a curious Chanel bag, and with her vaguely Southern full-throttle emoting in fine chipmunk form, she was backed by a full band and a kooky cast of dozens. She wriggled out We Can't Stop and the sashaying gem #GETITRIGHT, both from her new album, Bangerz. She covered Lana Del Rey's Summertime Sadness with a throaty purr, showing a savvy, artistic awareness that gets lost in her lascivious leanings.

She claimed to be under the weather, a result, Cyrus said, "of making out with too many people backstage." But she still delivered two mondo ballads, Adore You and, of course, Wrecking Ball, to close things out. And therein lies the sly Miley twist. She's young and frisky, but she ultimately wants to be taken seriously. Her set was sexy, sure, but it wasn't a peep show. Santa should enjoy the affection while he can.

Sean Daly can be reached at Follow @seandalypoplife on Twitter and Instagram.

Miley Cyrus and crew deliver frantic fun at Jingle Ball 12/19/13 [Last modified: Thursday, December 19, 2013 12:10am]
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