Darren Criss kicked off the holiday season with a very special performance at State Farm Park in iHeartLand. On Friday, November 25th, fans in Fortnite and on Roblox gathered to see the former Glee star hit the State Farm Park stage with new music from his album A Very Darren Crissmas. The joyous event was hosted by iHeartRadio's EJ and fans on Roblox had the opportunity to head backstage at State Farm Park after the show for a Q&A where the two talked about all things music and holidays.
The multi-talented Criss started off his holiday set on Roblox with his version of the 1942 holiday classic "Happy Holidays/The Holiday Season" surrounded by light-up trees and a screen showing dazzling visuals of sparkling lights. Criss was accompanied by a talented bunch of musicians including background singers and a brass section to bring his renditions of holiday favorites to life. For his next tune, Darren described it as "a whacky little novelty song from the 1950s sung by a 10-year-old girl." He continued, "So, I figured, why not, as a dude in his 30s, do a hip-hop version of it?" He went on to sing a vibe-y version of Gayla Peevy's "I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas."
Those watching the show in Fornite had the opportunity to win iHeartLand gold by playing "How Fan Are You?" which asked multiple-choice trivia questions about the show and the hosts. Soft piano chords introduced Criss' next song, "All Those Christmas Cliches," originally recorded by Nancy LaMott. Criss went on to sing what he called, "one of the most popular Christmas songs of all time." He was of course talking about "The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire)" by Nat King Cole. Darren delicately vocalized while the trumpet player gave a stunning solo.
As snow quietly fell over iHeartLand on Roblox, he grabbed his guitar and picked up the tempo to play one of his album's original holiday tracks "Christmas Dance," which included a nod to the unofficial official Queen of Christmas, Mariah Carey. After the infectious tune came to an end, Darren walked over to sit at the piano and addressed everyone in the metaverse. While he mentioned his next song wasn't actually a holiday song, he did believe its sentiment was "something we always need to remember" during the holiday season. He then launched into the song "Not Alone," from his 2010 EP Human.
Remaining at the piano, Criss and his band took Fornite all the way back to 2004 with a cover of Keane's emotional hit "Somewhere Only We Know." Darren left the piano and returned to the mic to sing a song about "resilience and always looking ahead and being grateful for the things you have." He went on to sing Regina Spektor's 2016 song "New Year."
Taking off his jacket, Criss stayed on the theme of non-holiday songs and told his fans on Roblox, "This next song is about celebrating the things you love with the people you love and while it's not necessarily a holiday song, I feel like that's part of the holiday spirit." Darren and his band launched into his original song "For A Night Like This" from his 2021 EP Masquerade. The joyful track turned out to be the final song of his set and as the band played him out, Criss closed out the show by telling the audience, "We hope your holidays are warm and bright where ever you are in the metaverse and the real-verse. We hope you're with people that you love and that love you."
If you missed the show or just want to relive the holiday cheer, the event will be available in iHeartLand at State Farm Park through November 27th.
And don't forget to catch Darren Criss during his guest appearance on iHeartLand's special holiday episode of "And That's What You Really Missed." He'll join hosts Kevin McHale and Jenna Ushkowitz to share their favorite holiday memories from Glee and sing songs on Thursday, December 8th at 7p ET / 4p PT in iHeartLand in Fortnite and on Roblox.