The MGM Grand played host to a plethora of pop stars this weekend for the Clear Channel-sponsored iHeartRadio Festival, two nights of genre-spanning, crowd-pleasing pop music. A mix of veterans and newcomers thrilled the (reportedly very drunk) crowd on both nights. The most successful performers were those who stuck to a setlist of hits, like Jay-Z, who may have performed “On To The Next One” but didn’t take its advice about his old songs, including favorites from The Blueprint and The Black Album alongside newer singles like “Empire State of Mind” (with a guest appearance by earlier performer Alicia Keys). Those whose songs were less well-known by the crowd, like Sublime with Rome, were less well-received.
Perhaps the big surprise of the weekend, according to reports, was Jennifer Lopez, who, in a set that spanned her musical career, proved supremely capable of standing among the pop titans of today (with a Pitbull feature on “On the Floor”). Saturday’s “special guest” Sting also more than pulled his weight, backing Steven Tyler on bass early in the evening, then joining Lady Gaga for performances of “Stand By Me” and his own “King of Pain.”