The annual music and fashion event, which is generally comprised of famous people performing on a runway while supermodels walk past them in over-the-top lingerie (and really, what could be more watchable than that?), was even more high-octane than usual this year, with musical guests including Taylor Swift, A Great Big World, Fall Out Boy and breakout UK girl group Neon Jungle, making their debut stateside performance.
Here are some highlights from the event:
1. Famous people + supermodels. Did I mention that this is how the show works? There’s celebrities, singing songs. And then the most famous supermodels in the world strut down the runway wearing next to nothing (usually just a combination of expensive string and feathers), and they sort of smile and laugh with the famous people as they perform, sharing coy glances or high-fiving each other. It’s absurd, and awesome.
2. Taylor Swift wearing a Union Jack dress singing with Fall Out Boy. I mean, see the above picture for more on that. Not only did Swift steal the show from the supermodels (no small feat) — all eyes were on her when she stepped out onto the stage alongside Pete Wentz and Patrick Stump to perform “My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark (Light Em Up)” — but she sounded exceptional on the rock track, tiny Union Jack hat and all.
3. A big performance from Neon Jungle. The English girl group is one of the most promising new acts to emerge in 2013, and I’ve been singing their praises loud all year — so it was a particular delight to see the girls rocking neon-hued outfits (makes sense) to perform a boisterous, rowdy rendition of their electro-grit banger “Trouble.” Their energetic, peppy set should generate a ton of buzz after the broadcast — on both sides of the pond.
4. A Great Big World made everyone say something. Well, actually, the room fell silent as singer-songwriter Ian Axel took the stage at a piano to turn out a spare version of his ballad “Say Something.” While Christina Aguilera‘s presence was, of course, missed, it provided a few moments of welcome respite from the otherwise-pummeling soundtrack — and the models floating down the runway made the song feel all the more ethereal.
5. Everything else Taylor Swift did. After the Fall Out boy collab, her solo performance later in the show turned out to be of “I Knew You Were Trouble,” which she performed in a glittering silver dress as artificial snow cascaded from the ceiling. It was a wintry spectacle, coinciding with some of the most absurdly glamorous lingerie looks of the evening, all white feathered wings and capes. But the true delight was the grand finale, which saw all the models doing one final strut as the talent joined them to dance on stage, set to Lady Gaga’s “Applause”; Swift was flipping her hair, dancing and singing along like a true diva. Gaga x Swift 2014? It could happen.
All in all, it was a killer show — cementing Swift’s status as the supermodel wig-snatcher to beat and launching Neon Jungle as the girl group to watch next year.
Watch the broadcast when it airs on CBS come December 10 at 10pm.
Get an eyeful of even more pop music coverage, from artist interviews to exclusive performances, on Idolator’s YouTube channel.