President Obama thanks troops at inaugural ball

President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama kiss as they dance during the Commander-In-Chief inaugural ball at the Washington Convention Center during the 57th Presidential Inauguration. Photo: AP

(AP/WJLA) The party scene for this year's inauguration was more muted: Fewer big names. No concert on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. Two official inaugural balls instead of 10.

But an expected 40,000 people crammed into the Washington Convention Center Monday night for those two balls, and there was still plenty of star power in the entertainment lineup.

Alicia Keys planted herself before a piano at the Commander in Chief's Ball for members of the military and dished up reworked lyrics to "Girl on Fire," declaring, "Obama's on fire." Brad Paisley, too, reworked his lyrics to fit the occasion, and began by thanking the troops "for keeping us safe."

Obama addressed cheering crowds at the Commander in Chief Ball, speaking by video to thank a group of troops in southern Afghanistan. Then he introduced his "date," Michelle Obama, who danced with her husband in a custom Jason Wu ruby chiffon and velvet gown while Jennifer Hudson sang "Let's Stay Together." Wu designed the first lady's dress for the 2009 inaugural ball.

Jennifer Hudson cut loose with a rousing rendition of Al Green's "Let's Stay Together." Obama crooned a few bars of the same song a year ago at a fundraiser at New York's famed Apollo Theater.