Sarah Gharib weighs
Remember JoJo? The first time I listened to JoJo willingly was after a nasty breakup, and “Too Little Too Late” has always been, since then, on my breakup playlists. We can also never forget the ultimate kiss-off, “Leave (Get Out)”. Now, nearly a decade since she released her sophomore album The High Road, JoJo, born Joanna Levesque, has finally returned to the music scene. The 24-year-old, who was locked in a longstanding legal battle with her former label Blackground Records, has now released a “tringle” – three singles – more than a year after inking a deal with Atlantic Records, having to leave behind the unreleased music from almost ten years of work.
For the three-single release, JoJo worked with a team of heavy-hitting writers and producers, including Benny Blanco and Jason Evigan for “When Love Hurts”, the most upbeat song of the trio, which she says is inspired by a mixture of 90s dance music, such as Black Box and CeCe Peniston, and their contemporaries, such as MENK, Duke Dumont and Disclosure. For “Save My Soul”, a track that delves into her own experience with witnessing addiction, the mid-tempo jam is haunting and wistful, where she clearly lays out the hopelessness of the situation she is dealing with. Even with the quick tempo, this song is still relatable, heartfelt and painful, clearly inspired by the likes of Whitney and Mariah. The same goes for “Say Love”, a ballad that fulfills its intended purpose – showcasing every high and low in JoJo’s multi-ranged voice. Even though these songs may not be as strong or as successful as her previous endeavors in music, they do one thing very well. They show fully JoJo’s personality – wounded, still going forward, extremely talented, and with great taste.
Many say that now, the single has replaced the album as the dominant medium for music, especially with dropping album sales, and the fragmented nature of the way we listen to music. However, this is largely offset by the emergence of artists recording for themselves and recording what they want to record, rather than recording for their songs to be played on the radio. There are many examples of artists that have made remarkable sales figures, without a single hit song from the album; Drake has done it, J. Cole has done it, Lana Del Rey did it with Ultraviolence and Kelly Clarkson did it with Piece by Piece. We can even argue that Beyoncé did it, as her album went platinum before “Drunk In Love” became the hit it is now. Now, artists can flourish without depending on the radio to get them attention, and JoJo is the prime candidate to reclaim her throne as pop princess. Even though she has been in limbo for years and has not released an album since 2006, she has been slowly but surely showing that she is still one of the smartest and most talented pop superstars. This is exemplified by her rewrite of Drake’s Marvin’s Room from a female perspective, which if you haven’t listened to, you definitely should.
What’s the next step? JoJo is now working on an untitled third album and has already had studio time with MNEK and Rami, hoping to bring these songs to life soon. If her new album is anything like the “tringle” we experienced from her, JoJo is back, better and truer to herself than ever.