1. Doja Cat’s “Santa Baby”
The singer kicked off the show with a sultry rendition of “Santa Baby,” dressed in a fluffy pink robe, as she sauntered down the stairs of a matching pink bedroom as she mused the lyrics and batted her eyes. The holiday hit was a perfect fit for Doja’s characteristically alluring vocals.
She also revealed her favorite festive treat, naming a breakfast staple. “Waffles are better than pancakes and I think most people know that,” she claimed. “It’s not an opinion. It’s a fact.”
2. Shawn Mendes’ “cozy” “Dream” performance
Among performances of his Wonder title track and a euphoric cover of Frankie Valli’s “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You,” Mendes shared a “really special song.”
He went on to deliver “Dream” off his new album in a dimly-lit room, surrounded by a glimmering Christmas tree and golden twinkle lights. He started out the performance on the piano, before standing up to belt out the emotional chorus about a long-distance love.
Mendes also shared his holiday plans, insisting that neither he nor girlfriend Camila Cabello will be cooking, laughing that he would “never leave the cooking up to me and her this year.”
And what will his adorable 10-week-old pup Tarzan get for Christmas? A rock. “I don’t want to spoil him too quickly,” Mendes joked.
3. Sam Smith’s “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”
While they admittedly don’t “love many Christmas songs,” Smith flawlessly executed the wistful classic, before sharing a healing holiday message for viewers.
“My message to anyone at Christmas is try your best, for one or two days, to turn off the noise, turn off your phones,” they shared. “Be with the people you love, and if you’re not, be with yourself and that’s enough.”
4. A stripped-back “Don’t Start Now”
Illuminated by a giant disco ball behind her, Dua Lipa slowed down her dancefloor staple for a soothing version of the track, before she delved into a emotive cover of John Lennon‘s “Happy Xmas,” bolstered by harmonies from fans around the world.
5. Harry Styles’ “Golden” with the Free Nationals
Standing in front of an Airstream, with the fittingly golden sun shining on his face, Styles delivered his latest Fine Line single with a guitar in hand, and the Free Nationals as his band.
“I just want to say happy holidays, hope you’re staying safe and managed to make the best of a rough year,” he sweetly wished viewers at home.
6. BTS’ “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town”
The septet briefly appeared to get viewers hyped for the night’s performances, but not without delving into a quick holiday singalong that had us hoping for a full set.
7. Lewis Claus in “Santa’s Grotto”
Dressed as ol’ Saint Nick, Lewis Capaldi appeared in a winter wonderland named “Santa’s Grotto” to “spread the Christmas cheer all over your face.”
To do so, he delivered a heartwarming rendition of Wham!’s “Last Christmas.” To introduce the song, he painted the picture of his ideal holiday moment. “I like nothing more on Christmas Eve than to take off all my clothes, and get right up next to the fire and have a nice chug of cocoa and listen to this song.”
8. Billie Eilish’s “Silver Bells”
Decked in a red, white and green-striped jumpsuit, the 18-year-old star performed the holiday favorite alongside her brother Finneas in front of Santa’s snowy workshop.
What does Eilish like to munch on when the holidays roll around? “Christmas cookies are a must,” she shared. “I love baking some Christmas cookies, decorating some. Gingerbread houses, candy canes, all of the above. Gumdrops, it’s all gold.”
9. The Weeknd performs “Save Your Tears”
Looking cozy in a sweater and gold-rimmed glasses, The Weeknd brought the cool factor to the evening by delivering the retro-tinged track as colorful lasers shot out from the Christmas tree behind him.