Sometimes those internet leaks and trolls get it right. Let’s say you have an amazing single that, when it first emerges on the internet, contains a banging beat, fierce vocals, and could easily be both a chart-topper and a temporary reclamation of the pop throne. And then, when it comes to releasing said single, you realise that what emerged online was sped up, and the original actually loses all its banger-potential. Frustrating, yes?
That sentiment pretty much sums up Jennifer Lopez‘s new album, A.K.A. In the context of the album, the treatment of First Love detailed above seems pretty understandable – J-Lo doesn’t seem to be interested in bangers any more, content instead with a strange melange of tempo and styles, and precisely nothing that sounds like it could recall the halcyon days of Waiting For Tonight.
The problem with A.K.A. is that it sounds like a series of half-realised ideas that go nowhere. It doesn’t sit comfortably when it tries R&B on So Good, trap-pop on Acting Like That, or even when mixing in a Latin flavour on I Luh Ya Papi (great title, mind). Every single chorus is forgettable, and lyrically it’s as vacuous as the genre can get. Even the guest spots are unoriginal – take a bow, T.I. and Iggy Azalea, besmirchers of pop – but there’s the smallest of respites on the Nas-featuring Troubeaux. A song that sears with Miami heat and J-Lo at her absolute best, this is the level we should be expecting.
But sadly it’s a blip. Worse still, A.K.A. seems to be proud of being a collection of slower jams and ballads (rather like the disappointing Shakira album). Let’s all admit it: J-Lo is at her best when she’s being utterly ridiculous, so when she misses some embarrassingly low notes on a song like Emotions, you have to wonder what all this new posturing is for. J-Lo can’t hit the younger market like Miley, she can’t rely on showmanship like Katy Perry, she doesn’t really have anything stimulating to say like Lorde or Lily Allen, and she certainly isn’t a diva like Mariah. What’s left, then, is an artiste desperately floundering as she tries to find her place in the industry. On this evidence, the only gap she’s remotely close to filling is that of the female Pitbull.