When Robin met Miley – again – they didn't twerk.
Not together, that is.
"Wait 'til you see who Miley twerks on tonight," Thicke teased a 16,000-strong crowd during Washington, D.C.'s Jingle Ball Monday night. "It ain't me."
No repeat of Cyrus and Thicke's scandalous MTV Video Music Awards performance, but Clear Channel's iHeartRadio Jingle Ball tour proved why it's a big, tween-fueled business. The tour, which kicked off Dec. 2 in Dallas, now spans 12 cities, including New York and Miami. Delving often into sensory-overload territory, it played out like a highlight reel of the year's top nine acts – giving each anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes to deliver their best before anyone could so much as yawn.
Highlights from the D.C. event, in order of performance:
Jason Derulo: An hour before opening the show, Derulo – known for the hit "Whatcha Say" and a tendency to sing his own name – told U.S. News to prepare for a "steamy" set. That translated to hip gyrating and acrobatic contortions, and judging by the crowd's reaction when he pulled up his black wife beater to reveal his abs, all that dancing pays off.
Derulo didn't keep his fans in suspense long, dramatically ripping off his shirt during "The Other Side." But don't get too attached, girls: The singer told U.S. News he plans on spending the holidays with girlfriend Jordin Sparks and her family.
Fifth Harmony: Perhaps the most pressing takeaway about this girl group, formed on "The X Factor" in 2012: They've mastered the art of the synchronized hair flip. During a 10-minute performance, the girls strutted and swung their hips in unison, most decked out in glittery shorts over tights. In an interview before taking the stage, they described mentor Simon Cowell as "one of the most genuine people ever," "humble" and "sweet." And when mention of their upcoming tour with Demi Lovato arose? A chorus of "wheee's" all around.
Robin Thicke: Sans his one-time twerking partner in crime, Thicke – introduced as a three-time Grammy nominee – sported a black suit (no referee-style stripes) and his trademark dark shades and smirk. He appeared stiff and occasionally wiped his face with a towel, despite a seeming lack of strenuous activity. In between songs, Thicke told the crowd he had been making music since he was 11 – the same age, he acknowledged, as many of those in front of him.
"Dreams do come true," he said. "It just takes a little longer for some of us." After further encouraging the audience to "call people and forgive them for what they did wrong" and to "be the first person to reach out," he delivered the song most of those present knew him for, "Blurred Lines." For better or worse, Cyrus did not make a cameo.
Fall Out Boy: Every good ball needs a rock star, and in this case, four showed up. "They can't make a comeback – because they never left," Santa said as he introduced Fall Out Boy, the punk pop band that announced they were back together earlier this year by releasing their first album since 2009. The group tore through favorites like "Sugar, We're Goin' Down" and "Thnks fr th Mmrs" as the night's first flames shot from the stage.
During a reflective moment, singer Patrick Stump said he was used to drinking and swearing on stage, but decided to offer some pearls of wisdom instead: "Music will never leave you alone, no matter what," he said. "Find that spark that makes you unique, and don't ever let anybody put it out."
Flo Rida: If Fall Out Boy brought the rock, Flo Rida brought the dance party. He whirled through hits like "Whistle," "Good Feeling" and "Low," jumping up and down and kicking his legs in the air – moves of passion, not choreograph. During one song, he showered the audience with roses and dollar bills. And he somehow found someone able to give him a piggy-back ride around the arena, pausing to grab hands and take selfies with fans. Flo engaged in the requisite shirt-removing before bringing an entourage onstage to show off his apple-bottom jeans. It's not a stretch to call him the life of the ball.