When Justin Timberlake sauntered into the middle of Nelly Furtado's performance as the "special surprise guest" of KIIS-FM's annual Jingle Ball concert Thursday night, he did it without announcement or fanfare. Still, when his lightly stubbled visage was beamed by the two big screens flanking the stage, the Honda Center in Anaheim filled with shrieks for approximately the billionth time. It was definitely an OMG!, camera phone-flashing, furious text-messaging moment.
Only after Timberlake casually handled the last chorus of Furtado's summer blockbuster "Promiscuous" did Timbaland, the innovative producer who usually makes the song a duet rather than a trio, acknowledge what had just happened. "You didn't see this one coming, did you?" he asked fans.
Well, probably most of them had. There had been plenty of clues that Timberlake would be involved at the station's self-celebration, most notably earlier in the night when Timbaland (the main collaborator on Timberlake's recent "FutureSex / LoveSounds" album and the man who lately has become the smoke to the superstar's fire) was awkwardly presented with a diamond-encrusted "key to KIIS," an honor whose meaning remained unclear. But Timberlake's appearance was a welcome one. In premiering "Give It to Me" (a song that reportedly will appear on Timbaland's next album) and performing his own "SexyBack," Timberlake added some welcome frenzy to Furtado's relatively subdued set.
The previous 2 1/2 hours had seen a succession of brief appearances from pop acts that riled up the crowd so much that the Honda Center had taken on the exhausted giddiness of a sleepover. Furtado's performance stood apart from the others because of its grace and maturity, two qualities not always appreciated by people who are taking delight in staying out late on a school night. As terrifying as it sounds, the songs from Furtado's 2000 debut, "Whoa, Nelly!," were by far the oldest ones played onstage that night.
Matching the crowd's demographics, the majority of the night's acts were young and female. Vanessa Hudgens, a star of "High School Musical," started the show with songs that had her bouncing from wild to sultry to sentimental, but her interceding stage banter was all giggles. Also seeming to balance identity issues was the nearly 16-year-old JoJo, who wore a tight, all-black outfit onstage, but whose pink T-shirt being sold at the merchandise stands had her painted image among rainbows and butterflies.
Sean "Diddy" Combs-sponsored girl group Danity Kane was an audience favorite, but the reality TV-born group failed to deliver any spectacular moments. Bow Wow, the night's sole hip-hop act, despite that genre being the principal music currently played on KIIS-FM (102.7), furiously performed each of his songs, working up the crowd even before he took off his shirt.
After Furtado's set, many of the more sleepy-headed shorties were escorted out of the arena, but RBD received perhaps the most enthusiastic response of the night for its closing set, even with the diminished audience numbers. The coed, six-member group created for the Mexican telenovela "Rebelde," RBD performed its song "Un Poco de Tu Amor" partially in English.