JoJo is back. Yes, I’m talking about that girl who once sang, “Leave (Get Out)” and no, I’m not kidding. After an almost five year hiatus, she just released a new single in preparation for her new album Jumping Trains. You should be listening, and I’ll tell you why: She’s genuinely talented, she’s fought tooth and nail for this record to finally be released, and she’s out of her mind. Seriously, what more do you need out of an artist?
To really understand the JoJo, you’ve got to know her history. Allow me to give you an accelerated summary of her career. A reading from the book of JoJo, if you will.
She first appeared as a contestant on America’s Most Talented Kids. Though barely a pre-teen, she stunned the audience with her throaty, soulful vocals that were reminiscent of a young Christina Aguilera (pre-Bionic/divorce/public intoxication/astounding weight gain/The Voice), making her an attractive prospect for record labels. She was signed to Blackground Records at age 12.
Her first single, “Leave (Get Out)” (You know it. You love it. Admit it.) hit number one on the Top 40 Mainstream when she was just 13, making her the youngest solo artist to have a number-one single in America. Her debut album, JoJo, went platinum and charted in the top ten on both mainstream and R&B/Hip-Hop charts.
All of that from a 13-year-old? Damn girl.
Her sophomore album, The High Road, was released at the always-precarious age of fifteen, showing JoJo in the throes of her teenage years. With the help of big name producers like Swizz Beats and Scott Storch, the latter being responsible for helping lauch Xtina’s career (RIP), she was ready for another smash. The album’s first single, “Too Little, Too Late,” broke Mariah Carey’s record for biggest jump into the top 3 spots on the Billboard Hot 100. With another solid album under her belt, JoJo had done it again.
But even after all of this success, the number one singles and the platinum albums, her career seemed to always be lacking. Her hits had a short shelf life, disappearing as quickly as they had come, and suddenly she’d be out of the picture for another two years. The only performances she could land, even at the height of her success, were mall tours and state fairs (OMG mall tours. Remember those?). Though not up to the caliber of Britney or Christina, she was still one of the biggest names in pop music at the time, and she was playing at a JC Penny near you! Although, this was before they started turning out pop stars REALLY young. Since Miley is a salvia-loving tattooed mess, Demi Lovato is constantly teetering on the brink of another meltdown and Bieber is apparently dating Usher, perhaps it’s for the best that JoJo was always kept just out of arm’s reach.
Making matters worse, she began having issues with Blackground Records when they moved from Universal to Interscope. This created a slew of problems when Blackground could not reach a distribution deal with Interscope for the songs already recorded, leaving JoJo unable to release any new music, existing in a virtual music limbo.
Though label drama prevented her from officially releasing an album, JoJo independently released the mixtape Can’t Take That Away From Me in September of 2010 to satiate her anxious fans. And this was no Lil Wayne mixtape, full of half-assed lyrics and borrowed instrumentals, but a full-fledged, admittedly more ‘experimental’ pop album showing JoJo was still as talented and hardworking as ever. Releasing a mixtape is almost unheard of for a pop singer, and it was JoJo’s way of showing her fans and the music industry alike that she wasn’t taking the waiting game lying down.
This year, with news of Interscope officially reaching a distribution deal, she’s kept the music coming. At the beginning of this summer, she released a promotional single, “Other Chick.” With a playful R&B beat and big, BIG, almost Kelly Clarkson-esque vocals (think “Since U Been Gone”) JoJo showed she was back and all grown up. A month later, she remixed Drake’s “Marvin’s Room.” Her version was a brutally honest female response that showcased her vulnerable and mature sides while telling the world she was GROWN. The fans loved it and made it almost as popular as the original. Things were looking up.
JoJo’s new single “Disaster” was officially released on Monday, and the fans love it. It’s another great pop record, which is a relief, because naming your comeback single “Disaster” is just setting everyone up for a slew of good punch lines. But she doesn’t disappoint. It’s got the classic JoJo sound that we all know and love: Acoustic guitar riffs, a big chorus and vocal runs GALORE, but this time, it’s coming from the perspective of a woman instead of a little girl.
So, she’s seriously talented, and just as serious about her career.
But what makes me really love her? Homegirl is crazy. I mean, batshit. Somewhere down the long road of label drama and fighting with record execs, she snapped. I, for one, could not be more thankful.
Her Twitter handle is @JoJoistheway, let’s start with that. JoJo. Is. The. Way. Drink that Kool-aid, y’all. And speaking of Twitter, which is the quickest way to anyone’s soul, let’s take a look at some of her best tweets.
@JoJoistheway The crazy in me digs the crazy in you
@JoJoistheway Gettin’ hyped for the gym this morning. Caffiene, music, egg whites, etc. Got my invisible battle paint on. I’m in SILENT warrior mode. Lol.
@JoJoistheway I’ve decided: I WILL BE MY OWN MUSE.
@JoJoistheway I dont walk, I glide. I dont sweat, I glisten. I’m not yelling at u, I’m expressing myself. I’m a woman. And therefore: U won’t understand.
JoJo is a sage. A veritable fountain of wisdom. An empowered, enlightened voice of our generation, with a Boston accent.
These are just the tip of the iceberg of insanity. It’s common knowledge that I like my pop girls complete with a healthy dose of crazy, and JoJo is BRINGING IT. It’s clear she’s got a sense of humor and, after all the label issues have been sorted out, she’s still not taking herself too seriously.
But all jokes aside, the girl is damn talented and she worked hard to get to where she’s at, and has worked just as hard to stay there. If you’re looking for a good album this fall, I’ve got a good feeling that, while Jumping Trains may not be the obvious choice, it will definitely be a good one. It’s the JoJo we grew up listening to, and now she’s grown up too. It’s quality. It’s pop. And it’s been a long time comin’. So if you don’t like it, you can Leave (Get Out).
With that, I’ll leave you with a final tweet from the woman of the hour.
“With my skin tanned and my hair long and my fans who’ve been so patient, me and my team r back to work but we still smell like a vacation.”