Showing posts with label jojo. Show all posts
Showing posts with label jojo. Show all posts

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

video review: 'mad love.' by jojo

I'm more than a little surprised this video has not done better, especially as so many of you were asking about it... eh, it happens.

In the mean time, Blackberry Smoke is coming, so stay tuned!

album review: 'mad love' by jojo

Are we really doing this? Okay, you all asked for it... 

So decades ago a record executive named Sam Phillips made the statement that if he could find a white guy who sang like a black man he could make a million dollars - and he was proven all too right by discovering Elvis. And sure, Elvis was a great singer and made some great music, but let's not pretend he was doing anything that black rock and roll artists hadn't been doing for years. And let's also not pretend this sort of thing has gone away with time - hell, look at the brief moment of success Iggy Azalea got in 2014. Look at how despite Eminem's wise decision to always pay tribute to the greats and his tendency to rip into his own whiteness in hip-hop as a sick joke, there are so many white boys who still consider him one of the greatest rappers of all time - and yeah, before I delved deeper into the genre, I was one of them.

All of this was on my mind a lot when I started getting requests to cover JoJo, and for all of those of you who had a brief flicker of recollection before wondering where the hell you know that artist, let's go back to the mid-2000s. Keep in mind the Billboard charts were in a weird spot in 2004-2006, especially the pop scene which was transitioning from R&B's dominance to whatever might come next. As such, we got the indie rock boom, a brief swell of mid-tempo adult alternative, and in response to this most pop starlets were allowed to develop a bit more of an edge or texture. But R&B was still mostly dominant, so into this scene comes JoJo, a girl who is my age and yet dropped her debut album in 2004, when she and I were both fourteen. And you can tell by the way she was marketed to try and snag that sweet spot between pop and R&B, the teenage white girl that sang like a black girl - hell, she was signed to Blackground Records, one of the labels behind Aaliyah - and make no mistake, it worked. JoJo's self-titled debut album sold five million copies worldwide, and it wasn't because it was good or authentic. Yeah, that's the other unfortunate surprise about revisiting this material, not just because the production and writing have aged pretty badly, but because I didn't find Jojo that interesting or potent of a singer. She had pipes, but a lot of her material felt pretty cheaply produced, which didn't help any authenticity questions.

So okay, that was the mid-2000s - it's been ten years, where has JoJo been? Well, after her follow-up album couldn't produce a single after 'Too Little, Too Late', she finished high school and then spent the next several years fighting with Blackground, which later went out of business. Granted, they gave her a shot with 'Disaster' in 2011 where she went full pop... and eh, both Kelly Clarkson and Demi Lovato were doing this sound better even then, even though it sounded like she had finally grown into her voice. But JoJo was still around - she dropped two mixtapes that picked up a little traction, and when she got picked up by Atlantic she released a few EPs that somehow picked up enough traction for a third album. And you know, in a strange sense it might have helped her to sit out the past ten years of pop - she wouldn't have fit well with the flashier divas of the early 2010s, and I have to admit there's a very small part of me that wouldn't mind seeing her explosive vocals make a comeback. Furthermore, unlike her previous albums she had the main writing credits on this record, and while you wouldn't find many name producers, this was a chance for a fresh start. I'll admit right out of the gate I wasn't interested at all when I started getting a tidal wave of requests, but the research I did got me intrigued, so how is Mad Love?