The 2018 edition of Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve turned into a rain-soaked spectacle for performers Christina Aguilera, New Kids on the Block, Dan + Shay and Bastille, but that didn’t dampen the spirits of the artists, waterlogged hosts Ryan Seacrest and Jenny McCarthy, or the crowd of over 1 million revelers who crammed into New York’s Times Square for hours on Monday.
Aguilera, clad in a large, belted, snow-white ball gown and towering thigh-high boots, looked regal as she nailed a long medley of her hits “Genie in a Bottle,” “Come on Over, “’Aint No Other Man, “Can’t Hold Us Down” and “Fighter” while a steady rain poured down — she thanked the crowd for braving the elements and, after the performance, joked that her daughter’s middle name is Rain, so she felt right at home.
Singing in the rain is nothing new to NKOTB, as the quintet — Jordan Knight, Donnie Wahlberg, Joey McIntyre (celebrating his 46th birthday), Danny Wood and Jonathan Knight — also wore white, mixing hits like “Step By Step,” “The Right Stuff,” “Please Don’t Go Girl” and “Hanging Tough” with newer songs like “Block Party.” The group began their performance on the iconic red steps in the middle of Times Square — only the second time the city has allowed such a performance — then worked their way through the crowd to the main stage located on 47th street.
“It seems every time we’re outside for a big performance, it’s pouring,” Wahlberg told Variety. “The fact that it’s raining sort of stacks the deck against us, but that just brings us back to the early days, when everything was stacked against us. The little things that are challenges, I think are the coolest.”
He said their Monday performance was a condensed version of the set they’ll perform on the 2019 MixTape Tour with Salt N Pepa, Tiffany, Debbie Gibson and Naughty By Nature.
“We start on the stage, and we go right out to the audience with the crowd,” he said. “So this was perfect for us to use the stairs to walk through the crowd to get to the main stage — we took our concert and squished it into six minutes.”
Wood said that New York is special to the Boston group, as they celebrated the 30th anniversary of their appearance at Harlem’s Apollo Theatre in 2018. “I cried like a baby,” Knight said. “It was an emotional night.”
Wahlberg also talked fondly of Post Malone, who was streamed in live for the broadcast from his show at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center.
“I saw Posty in a shoe store in L.A. about a week and a half ago,” he said. “He just shot a movie with my brother, Mark (Wahlberg), in Boston. Their (characters) are in jail together. I’m a huge fan — his song ‘Congratulations’ is my theme, and he is such a sweet kid.”
Country duo Dan + Shay (Dan Smyers and Shay Mooney), who opened the show, were happy they made it through their set without “wiping out on stage.”
“That was our first time ever performing in Times Square, and to do it on New Year’s Eve was just incredible,” said Smyers. “There’s a million people down there, it was pouring down rain, there was a couple of inches of water on our feet while we were playing — and nobody in the crowd cared that it was raining. I have so much respect for the people who were waiting outside all day — we only had to go out there for a few minutes singing in the rain. Our hats are off to them.”
The duo were part of a lineup that featured several country acts beamed in from all across the country for the telecast, including Florida Georgia Line and Maren Morris in New Orleans and Kane Brown, Kelsea Ballerini and Lauren Alaina in Hollywood.
“We love being part of this new wave of country music,” Smyers said. “Everybody’s out there doing their thing, and it’s making Nashville proud.”
Bastille’s set, which included their hit collaboration with Marshmello “Happier,” was both a celebration of a huge year with a look into 2019, as the group just released a new single, “Grip,” from its mixtape, “Other People’s Heartache, Part 4.” Singer Dan Smith joked that performing while it was “pissing rain” made the British band feel at home.
“It makes us feel like we’re at a festival in London, but with a lot more lights,” he joked.
2018 may be hard to top, but Bastille is gearing up for a European and UK tour in just a few weeks, with a trek to Australia. Plus, the band is close to completion of their third album.
Elsewhere in Times Square, lovelytheband wrapped up a big year with its first ever performance in Times Square of “Broken.” Rounding out the entertainment on the Planet Fitness stage, Sting was exempted from the Times Square “No Umbrella” policy for his rehearsal, Robin Thicke performed a medley of hits, and Bebe Rexha performed a set including “Meant to Be,” “Me, Myself and I,” and “I’m a Mess” before returning for a version of John Lennon’s “Imagine,” just prior to the ball drop.
As for resolutions, all of the acts were looking forward to new projects, tours, and continued good health in 2019.
“Every year I resolve to have more fun and party more,” said Bastille bassist Will Farquarson. “And then I realize it doesn’t suit me, so my resolution is now just to be more sociable.”