Don't Dismiss Y-100's Jingle Ball, a Teen Concert With Grown-Up Appeal

Shawn Mendes
Shawn Mendes Photo by Brian Ziff
After a long 2018, the best time of year has finally come: Y100’s Jingle Ball. The annual holiday-themed pop concert provides seasonal cheer, promotes the year’s hottest artists, and allows your little sister and her teenage friends to wear reindeer antlers while running recklessly throughout the BB&T Center.

If you're an adult, you might think the concert is obviously for those under the age of 15. But that’s no reason to turn down a Calvin Harris-headlined show.

This year’s Y100 Jingle Ball lineup includes headliners Shawn Mendes, Calvin Harris, Marshmello, and Khalid, along with Bebe Rexha, Bazzi, Alessia Cara, and Sabrina Carpenter. For more than 20 years, the coveted Jingle Ball has brought families and good music together, which is good. But because the stands are filled with so many young fans, it can sometimes feel like a babysitting gig. Not so good.

Still, the stars on this year's roster offer plenty of reasons for grown fans to stick it out. In fact, many of the artists' lyrics cater more to adults.

The 20-year-old Canadian artist Shawn Mendes has it all: good looks, a hot bod, and a captivating voice with sometimes-daring lyrics, the kind of lyrics that can make you cringe to hear your little sister repeat. One of his latest singles, “In My Blood,” walks through a hard time in his life: "Just have a drink and you'll feel better/Just take her home and you'll feel better/Keep telling me that it gets better/Does it ever?” Mendes sings softly. If your sister isn't drinking anything harder than apple juice, the song surely isn’t speaking to her.

Khalid, also slated to take the Jingle Ball stage this year, has had a huge past two years. The 20-year-old from El Paso, Texas, is best known for his hit single “Location,” which dropped last year and prompted the entire nation to send their coordinates to strangers. After his first album release, 2017's American Teen, Khalid followed up late this year with the EP SunCity, which is stacked with tracks about rocky relationships.

In "Better," the lead single, he sings, "No one's got to know what we do, hit me up when you're bored/'Cause I live down the street, so we meet when you need it, it's yours." We all know what "it" is, and it’s not for anyone under the age of consent.

Alessia Cara, on the other hand, is kid-friendly. The 22-year-old Ontario native has effortlessly mixed alternative R&B, soul, and pop and has probably never said a cuss word in her life. Her music tells the story of every kind of relationship issue, which raises eyebrows about her personal life. But for your sister, Cara is a more suitable music choice. Winning the 2018 Grammy for Best New Artist, she showed off not only her songwriting skills but also her ability to write classily for teenage girls.

So, yeah, Y100’s Jingle Ball is for kids — but not just for kids. Although the concert can bring out your inner child with its winter-wonderland theme, free Santa hats, and teeny-bopper opening acts, the lyrical content of the headliners makes it worthwhile for adults. The holidays in summery South Florida can feel only so festive thanks to the lack of cold weather, but that shouldn’t stop you from turning up, Christmas-style, at Jingle Ball.

Y100's Jingle Ball. With Shawn Mendes, Calvin Harris, Khalid, Marshmello, and others. 7:30 p.m. Sunday, December 16, at BB&T Center, 1 Panther Pkwy., Sunrise, 954-835-8000; Tickets cost $36 to $251 via
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