Santa has his work set out for him this year. If 2016 was about shocking losses, 2017 has been about an ongoing dumpster fire of bad news and bad men.
Who has been “nice” this year?
Once again, we’ve stolen Santa’s naughty and nice lists and gone searching for the artists making up the bill for the Jingle Ball, radio station Z100’s annual celebration of all things pop. Who’s getting presents from the bearded breaking-and-entering expert?
Her activism helped make her one of Time’s 100 Most Influential People this summer, but by the fall, it was her music back in the spotlight; “Sorry Not Sorry,” the first single from her latest record, is quite rightfully her biggest hit to date.
Niall Horan and Liam Payne
One of the unexpected joys of this year has been watching the One Direction lads find their own voices in their solo careers. Niall Horan is one slide guitar away from folk-country, and Liam Payne is doing a mini-Justin Timberlake impression. Both are, if not groundbreaking, fun.
Fall Out Boy
What does experience in the music business look like? The veteran pop-punk act delayed the release of its newest record not because of calendar congestion or award eligibility, but because it simply wasn’t good enough by the band’s standards. Santa is very pro-truth.
It was incredibly kind of Smith to release a new album just in time for thousands of kids who have no idea what to get their parents for the holidays. (Still: That voice may be the smoothest in music today.)
It’s been a bad year for boorish frat boys. This year’s act for the Ball’s mid-concert kiddie rave released its debut album just this year, and even earned a Grammy for “Don’t Let Me Down.” But it’s still hard to forget the casual misogyny that infused the duo’s public persona right up until the spotlight really started to shine.
Why Don’t We
Give them credit for at least being solo artists first, before forming a boy band. And they’ve certainly been successful (105 million YouTube views, 2 million Instagram followers). But it feels like an act that was conceived as a hashtag, rather than a music group. Santa values authenticity.
His 2017 album was too bland for the Grammys. Read that again. Like a professional wrestler whose gimmick has become stale, the aw-shucks persona feels a bit grating.
It’s difficult to put together a show like the Jingle Ball, juggling everyone’s schedules and figuring out lineups. But in a year where “Despacito” ruled the summer and artists like Bruno Mars garnered multiple Grammy nominations, this lineup feels a little . . . pale?