“This is not the girl you used to know”, sings Jennifer Lopez on the opening title track of ‘A.K.A’.
She’s right. Is this really Jennifer Lopez? J-Lo? Jenny from the Block?
Quite frankly, ‘A.K.A’ is so devoid of personality it could be anyone. As on the title track, the album is predominantly lowest common denominator, EDM and R&B tinged pop. For the most part, Lopez could be any old featured singer, so weak and flat is her obviously auto-tuned vocal.
A couple of tracks are halfway decent. The Max Martin written First Love fizzes and froths, but Lopez’s delivery offers little to elevate the song beyond three and a half minutes of ‘nice’. Lead single I Luh Ya Papi has some truly terrible and unintelligible lyrics (that require serious translating), but at the least its summer vibe is catchy enough (even to the point of annoyance). Elsewhere So Good is the best of the wannabe-Rihanna tracks.
The rest of ‘A.K.A’ is a series of banal mid-tempo ‘jams’ that see Lopez switching from pop-ballad singer (Never Satisfied, Emotions) to posing as some clichéd hip-hop star. For the latter tracks she nearly always has assistance from some obvious choices: A.K.A features T.I, Acting Like That features Iggy Azalea, Worry No More features Rick Ross (and the lyric “all them other bitches stab you”). It all sounds utterly forced, attempting to catch listeners with generic production alongside a provocative album cover. Only Let It Be Me provides a hint as to Lopez’s Latin roots with its Spanish guitar, but it’s merely a token effort for fans of her previous material.
And then it all ends (at long last) with Booty. If the title alone wasn’t warning enough, the track includes the following: the repeated refrain “big big booty, what you got a big booty” in some sort of tongue-in-cheek reference to Lopez’s famous ass; a chorus that demands the listener to “work”, clearly aimed at Britney fans; the pre-chorus lyric “Go on let them jeans touch you while you’re dancing, it’s his birthday, give him what he asked for” (say no more); all to dancefloor production stolen directly from her ‘hit’ On The Floor.
And it also features that bald rapping wonder Pitbull – they’re practically inseparable these days. Some choice lines of his include “booty, booty, booty, booty, booty everywhere, look at her booty, stop, stare”, “she got a booty that’ll swallow a thong” and “I wanna pick it up and put that booty in my car”. It’s crass, crude and unnecessary – when will these two just give up on this appalling partnership?
It’s clear, then, from ‘A.K.A’ that Lopez has lost all semblance of class, talent and relevance. What happened to Jenny from the Block? The girl who’s waiting for tonight? The girl who screamed “play my mother f*cking song”?
* First Love
* I Luh Ya Papi
* So Good
Listen: ‘A.K.A’ is available now.