When done well, mainstream pop music is inescapably played everywhere, and it makes you want to do nothing more than dance and have a good time. This same radio-friendly music doesn’t always translate onto the stage.
On Tuesday, courtesy of the Activities Council, Mike Posner and Jason Derulo tried to prove that they, regardless of being super radio-friendly, can still put on a strong and talented show.
While neither were musically fantastic, the audience was certainly into it.
After Kelley James’ opening set, Posner took the stage. As the lights dimmed and a robotic, futuristic countdown started, one that referenced his debut CD, the crowd rushed near the stage.
Slowly, the countdown stopped and turned into Posner’s “Please Don’t Go.” The crowd immediately erupted in applause, throwing their hands up in excitement.
When Posner actually sang, he was decent, though it was often hard to distinguish what was real and what was tape. He didn’t dance but kept the crowd entertained by commanding them to jump, snap, clap, whatever matched with the song.
While he was the least talented performer of the night, he had the best stage presence, and the crowd ate up every bit of it.
Next on the setlist was “I Should’ve Cheated on You,” and in the middle of it, his backing band (two DJs) turned it into a dubstep remix. Once the song was over, he gave the audience the shout out they were waiting for.
“What the (expletive) is up Bradley? You ready to party with us?”
His vocals weren’t that strong, but his connection with the audience ran deep. Every time he stared into the crowd, another girl seemed to melt. By the time he covered R. Kelly’s “Ignition (Remix),” the crowd had turned into a full-on frat dance party.
To introduce his latest hit, “Bow Chicka Wow Wow,” Posner played some of Ginuwine’s “Pony,” and said when he was writing “Bow,” he was aiming to create “our generation’s ‘Pony.’” From the looks of the crowd, he succeeded. He even brought a girl up to the stage, dancing with her and giving her a giant teddy bear.
At one point, he showcased another skill, bringing out a giant drum covered in glitter and banged on it while singing lines of Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep.”
As every artist does, he gave a shout-out to his fans and talked about how he went to Duke, eliciting boos from the crowd. To get them back on his side, he said “Including Duke, Bradley is the (expleitive) craziest of them all.”
For his closer, he went with his first real hit, “Cooler Than Me,” during which he rocked a customized Bradley basketball jersey and tossed it out to some lucky ladies. The audience was reluctant to let him leave and waited for Derulo to begin.
The crowd’s anticipation and excitement was much duller for Derulo, who came out on an empty stage dancing with laser-like gloves. For his set, things were simple, merely him and sometimes two backup dancers.
He kicked off with “The Sky is the Limit,” and though not executed perfectly, it was commendable to see him sing and dance. He also kept things fresh, performing the beginning part of “Whatchu Say” backed by an acoustic guitar before breaking into the real version.
One of his biggest cheers came for his set came during his introduction to an acoustic “Riding Solo,” a song he reprised later in the night for the full version.
He said, “Is there anyone that is single in the building? Well ladies, I’m single too.”
In an adventurous mood, one that went unappreciated by the audience, Derulo changed “Georgia on My Mind” to “Peoria on My Mind,” highlighting his vocal talents and slowing things down for a bit.
As far as an entire concert goes, Derulo seemed confused as to which way to go, as if he needs either more or less production.
But as the night went on, Derulo looked more comfortable. Showcasing his dance moves, Derulo covered both “SexyBack” and “Billie Jean,” and his performance of Michael Jackson’s hit was extremely impressive both dance-wise and vocally.
For his closer, Derulo chose “In My Head,” and the crowd was into it more than any other of his songs, possibly because he excitingly pulled off the splits.
Overall, neither performance was particularly stellar, but the crowd never lost interest. While neither broke musical barriers or was exceptionally innovative, a happy crowd can’t be all bad.
Some artists become transcendent when they take the stage – entertaining even the most lackluster fans. This concert didn’t do that – hardcore fans only – but for now, Derulo and Posner can rest easy in the crowd of radio-friendly music that isn’t terrible in person.