DNCE, Fifth Harmony, Hailee Steinfeld, Charlie Puth, Tinashe, Rita Ora, Jake Miller and Sabrina Carpenter celebrated the true spirit of the holiday season in a big way at the iHeartRadio Jingle Ball at Madison Square Garden in New York City Friday night (Dec. 9), performing the debut of an all-star jam of “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town,” with all the proceeds dedicated to helping those in need.
The festive event which featured a stage filled with at least 30 performers will raise money for the Robin Hood Foundation, an organization dedicated to fighting poverty and helping the homeless in New York City (23,000 of which are children). Fans are also being asked to donate to the organization by texting NYC to 27722 with a donation of $10 to go to the cause.
Steinfeld had plenty to celebrate — just moments before, she performed her hit, “Starving,” which she excitedly told the audience had just gone platinum. Earlier in the day, she hosted the Billboard Women in Music Awards.
It was a night of surprises, and the MVP of the night was Fifth Harmony star Camila Cabello, who joined Machine Gun Kelly for a collaboration of their hit “Bad Things” (which samples the 1998 Fastball song “Outta My Head”). The duo flew in last minute from London for the performance, and was there to step in to make up for the absence of scheduled headliner Meghan Trainor, who had to cancel and is on vocal rest due to doctor’s orders.
Trainor wasn’t forgotten, however, as Puth performed a fine set of hits that included their duet, “Marvin Gaye.” This is the second year in a row Puth celebrated the holidays on stage at Madison Square Garden for Jingle Ball, and he made sure to shout out to his “hometown station” as he sat at the piano for “One Call Away,” “We Don’t Talk Anymore,” and his Golden Globe nominated anthem, “See You Again.”
Another surprise guest included MØ, who joined Diplo for a live performance of her hit with Major Lazer, “Lean On,” and her song with Justin Bieber, “Cold Water.” Bieber later performed the song himself in a stripped down moment.
Jingle Ball is not only a celebration of the biggest hits of the year, but also an opportunity to embrace the biggest music stories of 2016, so it was fitting that 12-year old America’s Got Talent winner Grace Vanderwall made a brief appearance introducing Ellie Goulding, whom she praised “writes her own songs just like me.” The self described “New Yorker” must have been overwhelmed as she led a sing-along with an audience that knew all the words of her song “I Don’t Know My Name.”
Other native New Yorkers onstage included the Chainsmokers, who are improving with each live performance. Their set included No. 1 chart topper “Closer” (Halsey was not in attendance), a snippet of Coldplay’s’ “Yellow” and a duet with Daya, who joined them for their hit,“Don’t Let Me Down.”
Ariana Grande, fresh off her performance on Fox’s Hairspray had a set that included “Side to Side,” “Into You” and “Dangerous Woman.”
Justin Bieber prepped himself backstage as he prepared to close the night.
“This is the latest show I’ve done,” he said to an electrified crowd. “You guys wanna stay up all night? Maybe an afterparty?”
It’s been a few years since Bieber last headlined Jingle Ball, and his growth as an entertainer and artist showed during his set. Introduced by iconic New York actress Sarah Jessica Parker, who referred to the show as “the coolest night of the year,” Bieber took the stage dressed in a yellow jacket and white shorts for his opener, “Where Are U Now?” He quickly jumped into “Company” and performed his choreographed dance numbers with his skilled backup dancers.
In a nice moment, the pop star ditched the dancing all together and stood center stage armed with just a guitar for an acoustic version of “Cold Water” with an an invitation to sing along, saying “I know you know the words.” That stripped down moment, as well as “Love Yourself” (sung in a lower key), showcased another side of the singer.
In a spontaneous moment he noticed a gentleman on the side of the stage singing along to hits like “Sorry,” “Let Me Love You” and “What Do You Mean?” Amused, he turned and encouraged the man on, who responded by flinging what appeared to be a stack of dollar bills into the air.
“I’m honored to be here,” he told the crowd. “This is one of my favorite places to perform.”
Openers Fifth Harmony were introduced in a recorded message by DJ Khaled as “the biggest girl group in the world” and hit the stage with hits such as “That’s My Girl,” “All in My Head (Flex),” “Worth It” and “Work From Home.”
Other highlights included Danish pop band Lukas Graham leading the crowd with its hit “7 Years,” Niall Horan’s too brief appearance for his song “This Town,” DNCE covering “Wannabe” by the Spice Girls, Goulding overcoming bronchitis to soldier through her 50 Shades of Gray hit “Love Me Like You Do,” and Daya, who is coming into her own as a pop star young girls can look up to. The reaction to her song “Sit Still, Look Pretty” is an encouraging sign that she will remain a force into 2017.
In addition to the action onstage, the excitement mounted behind the scenes as Victoria’s Secret model Hailey Baldwin slipped in to catch the show. YouTube stars Jack and Jack (Jack Gilinsky and Jack Johnson), who performed earlier in the day at the Z100 and Coca Cola All Access Lounge, and former Wizards of Waverly Place star Jake Austin hung out and snapped pictures with fans. Real Housewives of New York star Romana Singer playfully filmed backstage shenanigans for her Snapcat, and Bachelor in Paradise star Ashley Iaconetti mingled with guests.
New York ‘s Jingle Ball is the coda to iHeartRadio’s Jingle Ball Tour, presented by Capital One, and the action will air on the CW Dec. 15 at 8 p.m. EST.