Sunday 19 June 2016

Nick Jonas - Last Year Was Complicated

Nick Jonas - Last Year Was Complicated

Usually it's the female popstars who take up the headlines - the Britneys, the Gagas, the Katy Perrys, the Taylor Swifts. But recently there's been a resurgence in male-focused pop. Bieber's comeback was the talking point of last year. Drake is currently dominating the charts. And even Zayn has released an impressive album this year.

Now we can add Nick Jonas to the list. It's been two years since his self-titled solo debut, an album that brought us the smash hit Jealous. With 'Last Year Was Complicated' he's proving that he's finally a "real man".

Taking those contemporaries as reference points, this is a slick album of cold, metallic synths, heavy beats and subtle hints of hip-hop. It's not the most original of sounds, but it's irresistible. Mostly, though, the album is about sex. Jonas has Champagne Problems that sees him doing the nasty rather than breaking up with his girl; he's not afraid to get Close with Sweden's Tove Lo; he touches his girl with "no hands" on Touch; and on Don't Make Me Choose he begs not to choose between his left and right hands, what for is anyone's guess...

He's not afraid to show some emotion - on Chainsaw he threatens to rip up his whole house now "you're gone", sung with a yearning melody over finger clicks. Later he sings "I'll never get over getting under you" on Under You, neatly combining breaking up with sex - his two favourite subject matters.

There's even a song here called Bacon that sums up the whole album as he revels in late nights alone, presumably chomping on some bacon. The lurching beat and rap from Ty Dolla $ign only emphasise this image of manliness, the only thing he loves "more than being with you" is "no ties", "no drama in my life", because apparently women are only good for sex and drama.

Yet who is this hyper-masculinity aimed at? You'd be forgiven for thinking Jonas is determined to rake in that pink pound as he constantly features in gay media, and seems to revel in his newfound status as sex symbol. Is this album really aimed at gay men so shallow they'll lap up this macho image?

More likely, Jonas is actually on a similar trajectory to those women he aims to beat to the top of the charts. Where so many female popstars have shaken off a cutesy young image to become sexually empowered women, Jonas has done the same with this album. Now he's finally a man - it just took some objectification to get there. Welcome to 2016 everyone.


Gizzle's Choice:
* Close
* Chainsaw
* Bacon

Listen: 'Last Year Was Complicated' is out now.