This year, the top 40 station put a satin bow on the Europhile club sound, giving dance music fans a shot at raving to the beats of Guetta, Lady Gaga, Taio Cruz and Flo Rida.
In a back row of the Nokia Theatre on Saturday night, a boy of about 6 in a dark purple hoodie took in David Guetta’s No. 1 pop single "Without You" and absolutely raved his face off. The kid knew every move in a glowsticker’s handbook, waving his palms at the yearning build-ups and fist pumping at the Ibiza bliss-outs. He sang every word to the song, and shrieked Guetta’s name when it was done.
Let’s recap how important this is. Dance music’s conquest of American pop is so complete that a child in elementary school can be a Beatles-on-Ed-Sullivan-style fan of a French electronic producer who does not sing live and whose performance is visually incomprehensible to most of his audience. And he was far, far from alone at Nokia.
This year’s KIIS-FM Jingle Ball, perhaps the most reliable round-table of what top 40 is valuing these days, put a satin bow on the Europhile club sound and made it the one present radio fans might be getting in perpetuity. The lineup included four-on-the-floor adherents such as Guetta, pop’s weirdo mother superior Lady Gaga, plus Taio Cruz and Flo Rida. With dance music this pervasive, maybe the DJ software company Serato Audio Research needs to come out with a kids’ version.
One problem was obvious from the beginning -- the show started at 6:45 p.m. If you wanted to catch Nickelodeon’s experiment in boy-band media synergy, Big Time Rush, and the end of Gaga’s set, you were in your chair for 4 1/2 hours. That kind of stage commitment would wear out Springsteen, plus KIIS devoted way too much time to inane DJ yakking with cable-TV celebrities.