Track-By-Track: Review of JoJo’s “Mad Love”
The soulful girl who provided the soundtrack to preteen breakups in the mid-2000’s is grown and has a new album to prove it.
JoJo, who was thrust onto the mainstream music scene in 2004 with the anthem “Leave (Get Out),” dropped her third album Mad Love on Friday – a decade after her previous LP The High Road – trading in her signature stripped-back R&B style for a more refined pop sound. As expected, JoJo has done some maturing since her last effort. Sonically and lyrically, this album marks a turning point in her career.
In honor of JoJo’s much anticipated return, here’s a track-by-track breakdown of Mad Love.
Track 1: “Music.”
Perhaps the most vulnerable song on the album, this ballad is an ode to her late father, who passed just last year. It features JoJo laying bare vocals over a faint piano, crooning the line, “Tell me who would I be without you?” in the song’s chorus. “Music” grabs your attention and sets the tone for the rest of the record.
Track 2: “I Can Only.” (feat. Alessia Cara)
“I Can Only” introduces the theme of self-awareness that carries throughout the Mad Love. The song embodies the pop genre with its simple arrangement and effortlessly charming hook. Cara, who is also on the track’s writing credits, appears in the second verse and takes on the following chorus by herself, adding her unique vocal flavor.
Track 3: “F*** Apologies.” (feat. Wiz Khalifa)
As the lead single from Mad Love, “F*** Apologies.” has been the face of the record thus far. It’s a fun, catchy track that encapsulates everything a pop song should be. Enlisting the ever-imaginative Wiz Khalifa to feature doesn’t hurt either. Check out the Francesco Carrozzini-directed music video below.
Track 4: “FAB.” (feat. Remy Ma)
“FAB.” (which stands for Fake Ass Bitches) is a metaphorical middle finger. Terror Squad alum Remy Ma, who was recently at the top of the charts with her and Fat Joe’s summer smash “All the Way Up,” lends her rhymes to the track in her typical no-nonsense fashion.
Track 5: “Mad Love.”
If you only listen to one song off of Mad Love, make it this one. A nod to her R&B roots, “Mad Love.” earns its position as the title track. While the instrumental bears similarities to Beyoncé’s “All Night,” the song is a vocal treat, with JoJo hitting almost every note in her repertoire.
Track 6: “Vibe.”
Very much a radio-ready hit, the song’s defining feature is its bumping bass. “Vibe.” is produced by Rock Mafia, the same hit-makers behind acts like Selena Gomez and Miley Cyrus. It wouldn’t be surprising to see this song climbing the Billboard Hot 100 in the near future.
Track 7: “Honest.”
With its confessional lyrics, ‘Honest.” is true to the album’s themes of growth and acceptance. In it JoJo unapologetically tells her significant other that she is who she is, no exceptions or façades. Once again, her seemingly boundary-less range shines
Track 8: “Like This.”
JoJo has outdone herself with this one, which is equal parts endearing and sexy. The adult-oriented theme is accompanied by slick, low-key production, letting the ambiance of the track speak for itself.
Track 9: “Edibles.”
“Edibles.” is complementary to the previous track. Although more fast-paced than “Like This.” the subject matter remains the same. Both songs are standouts on the record.
Track 10: “High Heels.”
This track is so ruthless it almost makes you feel bad for the guy it was written about. “High Heels.” chronicles a situation of infidelity and how JoJo intends to come out on top. She belts the chorus over larger-than-life production, promising to “look damn good for all of your friends.”
Track 11: “I Am.”
The most stripped-back song on the record is reminiscent of the first track, consisting only of JoJo singing over a piano. It’s a proclamation of her worth both as an artist and as a person and a powerful message of self-love.
Track 12: “Clovers.”
The first of the bonus tracks on the deluxe record, “Clovers.” is an electropop track that proves JoJo isn’t defined to any genre. She ad-libs over her own distorted vocals in the chorus, which is as fun as it is infectious.
Track 13: “Reckless.”
“Reckless” draws inspiration from new wave R&B, taking stylistic cues from artists like Miguel and Bryson Tiller. While the lyrics have a serious undertone, the production is impossibly alluring.
Track 14: “Good Thing.”
“Good Thing.” is an up-tempo dance tune. The club-ready track is certainly a departure from the sound of the rest of Mad Love, but it holds its own.
Track 15: “Rise Up.”
The record ends on a positive note with “Rise Up.” The track is symbolic of JoJo’s legal battle with Blackground Records and the other struggles she faced in the making of this much-overdo album.
Overall, Mad Love is a breath of fresh air and solidifies JoJo’s presence in the pop scene. We can’t wait to see what she does next.