JoJo | Winning My Heart with a Bit of Soul

The way she sang each song brought such a personal feeling to them and inspired me belt them out in my room in front of the mirror as if I had already lived through these upsets.

 

 

 

 

 

Rides home from my best friend’s house after school brought a lot of entertaining experiences into my life, from the hilarious chats with my mom to the never-ending search for something good on the radio. During one such ride I was in the midst of changing the station from Q107.5 when I heard this rather confrontational lyric that made my ears perk up:

“Get out (leave)/ right now, it’s the end of you and me/ It’s too late (now) and I can’t wait for you to be gone/ Cause I know about her (who), and I wonder (why) how I bought all the lies/ You said that you would treat me right, but you were just a waste of time.” That was a 13-year-old, a new artist called JoJo, and I was intrigued. I made a mental note and did some research on her when I got home. This white girl from Boston had soul, and I knew I had to get her album to see what she was really about. Her debut was self-titled, included 14 tracks and of course, turned me into a fan. I listened to that album every day and by the end of the week knew the lyrics to every song, including the ad-libs. Oh, Miss JoJo was on it!

“Not That Kinda Girl” caught my attention initially simply because it was different, independent—how I felt any girl should be in a relationship. She rapidly sang, “I’ma be up at the spot chilling with my crew, we’ll be hanging out/ Getting a little late you start bugging out, I don’t think it’s fair (no)/ You don’t like the clothes I wear, how I do my hair, I don’t really care/ ‘Cause it’s not for you, and I don’t have nothing to prove/ There can’t be any us if they can’t be any trust, nothing to discuss, no doubt, I’m not that kinda girl to let you play me out.”

One of my favorites on this album was “Homeboy,” which told the story of a boy and a girl who are best friends wanting to be much more, and I loved it because it described my exact predicament. “More than his voice is changing now/ all that I see is re-arranging now.” Yes, she was quickly becoming close to being brown sugar, and with her rendition of SWV’s “Weak” combined with her own ballads, “Never Say Goodbye” and “Fairy Tales,” she had reached the promised land.

JoJo had certainly formed her own genre of music, soul pop, because she had this amazingly soulful voice but the arrangement of her songs was very mainstream pop. Her second album, The High Road, really displayed this unique sound she possessed. The leading single, “Too Little, Too Late,” her most successful single to date, was very reminiscent of “Leave (Get Out).” It was a powerful “I’m moving on from you” song.

“So let me on down yes, time has made me strong/ I’m starting to move on, I’m going to say this now/ Your chance has come and gone, didn’t you know? It’s just a little too late, a little too long, and I can’t wait,” she sang. With this album you could see the evolution, not only of her vocals, but also of her songwriting. I thought she was brown sugar with her first album’s ballads, but she had really achieved elite status with her second single, “How To Touch a Girl” from The High Road. It was my favorite song by her, period.

This song paralleled in so many ways the person I am, and she really laid out the rules for a guy on how to secure a girl’s heart. Looking back, I can see how it foreshadowed the way I would feel with my first love. “I think I could like you, but I keep holding back, ‘cause I can’t seem to tell if you’re fiction or fact/ Show me you can laugh, show me you can cry. Show me who you really are deep down inside,” JoJo crooned. She hit the nail completely on the head with the final section of the song, “Bring me some flowers, conversation for hours to see if we really connect/ Then baby if we do, oooh, I’ll be giving all my love to you/ Do you know how to touch a girl? If you want me so much first I have to know/ Are you thoughtful and kind? Do you care what’s on my mind, or am I just for show/ You’ll go far in this world if you know how to touch a girl.”

“Yes, JoJo!” Was all I could think after hearing the message of the song and this album, which is that the high road is the best road to travel. The way she sang each song brought such a personal feeling to them and inspired me belt them out in my room in front of the mirror as if I had already lived through these upsets, and that’s what made me love her. I’m an all-or-nothing type of girl, and I could see JoJo is too. After hearing her performances, you can feel that she pulled everything she had inside and poured it out on the stage for the world to see, and that’s what makes JoJo brown suga, honey.

So JoJo, I thank you for being authentically you and going hard when you could just go home. I am anticipating the day I can purchase your third studio album, Jumping Trains, because I know you will not let me down. From the 13-year-old girl I heard on the radio in the car to the magnificently talented 20-year-old woman you are today, you have been emptying your soul on every track. I love you from the very bottom of my heart.

XOXO,

A

I’ve shared my love affair now I want you to share yours. Email me at intern@playbackstl.com and tell me your story of how you fell in love with music.

 

 

 

 

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