So after a short break whilst on the American Idol panel, Jennifer Lopez returns with a new album boasting that she is still the same girl from the block that we once knew and loved. She’s said in recent interviews that this album will feature more R&B than her previous albums which were mostly produced by Red One and has enlisted the help of some rappers aside from Pitbull such as French Montana, Iggy Azalea and even Nas. This is a risky move from J-Lo since dance hits such as On The Floor and Follow The Leader put her back on the map. So will this album be able to deliver the nostalgia of some of her arguably most iconic singles from the start of her career? Let’s hope so.
A.K.A (Feat T.I)
A few seconds into this track you begin to think that J-Lo lied to you when she said she’d take it back to R&B since the synthesiser within the track is dance. In addition to this, the first lyric states that “this is not the same girl you knew” which is a complete contradiction to the Same Girl promotion. It’s a good intro for the album because the tempo is not too fast nor too slow which is a good representation of the album as a whole. Jennifer Lopez also sings confidently that she’s “switching up her style” presumably from EDM to R&B/Pop. The lyrics are a little generic and simple and make you feel as if the song could have been cut down to one minute thirty seconds literally just as an intro. Overall, it’s a good listen.
This song is made for the summer radio however it does sound a little bit dated. It’s not the catchiest song and lacks an identity to separate J-Lo from any other artist on the radio. It’s understandable why they’d make this a first single due to its radio friendly sound but it doesn’t make her stand out in anyway and doesn’t make me believe she’s the same girl she spoke about. The song is basically about wishing the person she’s currently in love with was the first person to come into her life so she wouldn’t have had to have so many failed romances. Overall, it’s listenable but rather disposable.
This song is an unexpected ballad. The problem here is that a ballad normally features either a great vocalist or great lyrics. Never Satisfied is unfortunately distant from both. This is because the lyrics are very cliché and have been used in almost every generic ballad. “One taste is never enough… I’m thinking about your sweet love all of the time” these lyrics don’t make J-Lo or the track stand out in any way. Overall, this song doesn’t hit as much as it should because there’s been better songs about needing somebody. Nevertheless, it’s probably the first track on the album that represents a different style.
I Luh Ya Papi (Feat French Montana)
On a first listen, this song can come across as quite uninspiring and monotonous. But the hook is rather catchy and it’s surprising that it didn’t perform better in the charts since it’s not much different to other songs in the mainstream. The verses are what makes the song uninteresting, yet again the lyrics aren’t captivating as she talks about how hot she is and how hot the guy she’s pursuing is. There isn’t enough memorable lyrics for the general listener to sing along which means the song is only good for 30 seconds. French Montana’s rap isn’t catchy or memorable and adds nothing to the track. I Luh Ya Papi shouldn’t have been picked as the first single since there isn’t enough energy to keep you entertained. The beat is also a letdown as it doesn’t climate to anything. Overall, this track is forgettable.
Acting Like That (Feat Iggy Azalea)
When I saw she had a track with Iggy Azalea I wondered why it wasn’t immediately the first single since Azalea is on fire right now. But the reason is because the song is sonically dull. It’s as if Lopez decided to drop the dance instrumentals for a R&B/Pop sound but kept the same dance lyrics and vocal tendencies you’d hear on a dance track making it repetitive and lacklustre. Iggy’s rap fails to even rhyme and sounds like a forced feature where you can tell the artists didn’t even meet for a drink beforehand. It’s a shame since her latest collaboration with Ariana Grande was very good. On top of that, the song doesn’t have a decisive ending leaving you feeling underwhelmed. After listening to the song a couple of times, it grows on you within the hook leaving the song not a complete failure.
You can tell Jennifer Lopez doesn’t sing this song effortlessly. It’s unusual for J-Lo to sing out of her comfort zone vocally but lyrically this is one of the best songs on the album. It may even be the most personal whereas other songs leave you unsure whether they are related to J-Lo’s personal life at all. The production is stripped backed so you can hear the vulnerability in her voice. A gripe with this song is that the melody of which she sings doesn’t match the beat making it sound awkward. The hook “Someone took my emotions” is quite catchy and you might find yourself singing it in public like the person writing this review. Overall, a decent track!
This song sounds like a part two to Emotions as she’s not fazed by the hate she’s received from her last relationship. Yet again this sounds more personal and believable for J-Lo and although the song isn’t necessarily gripping it’s not bad. Yet again, I think the production is lacking and fails to stand out. Weirdly enough, the beat sounds reminiscent of a GTAV soundtrack that I can’t quite put my finger on.
Let It Be Me
Let It Be Me sounds like old school J-Lo with the Spanish guitar at the beginning. The lyrics are also an improvement from the previous tracks. The quiet, mysterious production leaves you intrigued. It’s a little cheesy as it sounds similar to a lullaby but it’s still enrapturing. This song is a soft ballad about letting it be known that she’s the one you love. This song is one of the few where J-Lo’s vocals don’t sound too thin and suit the song perfectly. Overall, it’s a good track to chill to.
Worry No More (Feat Rick Ross)
The production is similar to the other songs on A.K.A but sonically it’s more interesting. I feel as if these songs were made for rappers since they lack melody which makes it hard for J-Lo’s vocals to resonate properly. Rick Ross suits this song perfectly and could easily pass as his own as he almost steals the show. Otherwise, the lyrics are unexciting leaving the instrumental as the highlight of the track.
Booty (Feat Pitbull)
The opening to Booty sounds very similar to Goin In when the kicks start. It’s certainly up-tempo but a slightly darker version of dance. I wouldn’t say this is different from her last album. You can immediately tell this is the best single for the album. It’s got a catchy hook and features the predispositions of a general dance song. Lopez’s monotone vocals work well with the beat as they sync together perfectly. You can tell she feels more comfortable with up-tempo music as she confidently handles the beat. Pitbull is one of Lopez’s long time collaborators that no one asked for. I personally feel as if Ciara would have been a great feature on this track. Imagine the music video choreography? It would really work for both of them and I don’t remember the last time Lopez collaborated with someone that wasn’t a rapper. Pitbull’s rap is stereotypical of him as it doesn’t add much to the song and could easily be edited out. It’s not as good as On The Floor but it’s better than her previous dance singles she’s released of late.
Tens (feat jack Mizrahi)
This song is interesting even if Mizrahi’s voice sounds like an 80’s action figure. This is a very sassy track and sounds very much inspired by Lady Gaga’s Born This Way and Britney Spears’ Work Bitch. It really works for J-Lo since she’s such a fashion icon and has been known to be a diva, I could see this as a third single. This song could be even bigger if she collaborated with Lady Gaga for a full on vogue session. Overall, the song is enjoyable and a different style that works.
Troubeaux (Feat Nas)
This track works melodically in comparison to other tracks on A.K.A. Troubeaux could easily pass as a song from an old school Jennifer Lopez album and is the closest to R&B/Hip Hop on the album. Nas’ rap is good and takes me back to their previous collaboration on “I’m gonna be alright”. Overall, it’s a great track.
Expertease reminds me of First Love but it sounds a little more interesting. It suffers the same fate as First Love where this song could be given to anyone (like Nicole Scherzinger) as it lacks an identity. It doesn’t really show Jennifer Lopez in a unique way but it’s a nice track to chill to.
Unfortunately Same Girl sounds rather dated as if it were released in 2007. You can tell Chris Brown helped with the track since it sounds similar to Champion. Luckily it was just a bonus track and not a single like it was first rumoured. Overall this song isn’t really relatable to anyone. It sounds like it could be on a soundtrack for a Step Up film on a montage scene.
A.K.A doesn’t necessarily bring back the old Jennifer Lopez we knew and loved it. It does have hints of the old school R&B/Latin tracks that she used to produce with songs like Let It Be Me and Troubeaux but overall it sounds like a watered down version of the dance music she’s released. It’s almost as if it’s a transition album from dance to pop with R&B influences but it hasn’t quite reached its destination yet which leaves the album sounding somewhat unsparingly mediocre. This is because the lyrics are similar to what you’d hear on a dance track but it’s coincided with minimal pop/R&B production leaving you with nothing to hold on to that you actually like. Some tracks do stand out however, such as Let It Be Me, Booty and Tens are all different in their own way. The sassiness of Tens works so well within J-Lo’s favour and I’m amazed she hasn’t ventured into that territory before as it doesn’t require much singing but some catchy hooks which Jennifer Lopez is very good at. Booty is no departure from her previous album and it seems as if Jennifer Lopez’s vocals are a lot more comfortable on a dance production than an R&B instrumental that leaves her vulnerable. The more interesting tracks are bonus tracks which are an amazing oversight since Nas was the best feature on the album and Expertease and Tens had single potential. Overall, it’s hard to place this album, because half of the songs are OK (provided you listen to the deluxe version) and half of them are forgettable. I would say it’s Ok but it lacks replay-ability. It doesn’t have any tracks that will have you playing it for a whole year and in comparison to her older albums it’s not a cohesive album. If you are going to purchase this album I would definitely recommend you make the most of your money and buy the deluxe version since the majority of the best tracks are featured as bonuses. Otherwise, I don’t know if this is the right direction Jennifer Lopez should go. The best tracks are the dance tracks where her vocals are most comfortable. Her R&B attempts just aren’t believable and I wonder if J-Lo can really relate to them herself. I hope Jennifer Lopez looks at this album as a work in progress and takes her time to perfect the next album.
Tens, Let It Be Me, Troubeaux, Booty
Acting Like That, Never Satisfied, Best songs were bonus tracks
Rating: Lacks replay-ability
Tune in next Saturday as I review Lana Del Rey’s “Ultraviolence” album