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We're less than a month out from JoJo’s first LP in 10 years, Mad Love.
The lead single, "Fuck Apologies," was the first official taste of her new body of work, and it’s been gaining more and more attention since its release at the end of this summer. It’s a radio-ready R&B pop burner featuring Wiz Khalifa that makes you want to put your middle finger out the sunroof.
"Fuck Apologies" is the type of searing kiss-off anthem that JoJo is known for, but it puts her growth as an artist and as a woman front and center. The song makes it known that she’s not the "Leave (Get Out)" girl anymore, but she is still the girl you shouldn’t fuck with.
Last Wednesday, she premiered the album’s title track, "Mad Love," which is something else entirely.
Starting off with a rich chorus of backup vocals and a guitar, JoJo’s vocals beckon you into the first verse of a song that’s as much soul as it is pop.
"Lay here with me in the dark / I know my edges are sharp."
We've always know JoJo, first and foremost, by her vocals. They're one of the many things that have kept her here for so long, throughout everything. They're the reason her fans never let her go, even when she was wrapped up in label drama so deep that she (and we) didn’t really know if she’d ever be able to release music again. A voice like that doesn't come along often, and it can't be easily forgotten or replaced.
But this time, she makes you wait for it.
Even through the first chorus, she sings so softly that it's barely more than a whisper at times.
"You give me bad love / but I’ll take what I get / I’m starving for it / Like I’ve never had love."
Any pop star with a big set of pipes will wait for the end of the song to really give you what you came for, but there’s something about JoJo keeping things soft that makes the whole song feel more authentic, so believable, that you can’t help feel it right along with her. Her hushed confessions are just as satisfying as the song’s climax.
By the second verse, and through the end of the song, JoJo goes in full throttle about a love so good, so bad, that it drives you almost completely insane. Even almost a full week after the release, I can barely listen to anything else. Her vocals are so big that there's always something new revealing itself. The chorus is never the same twice. It's one of, if not the most, addictive song of the year. It’s a rare song that feels exactly the way it sounds.
About the song, JoJo told Vogue:
“Being from the East Coast, mad love is a term that you hear a lot. You know, like, I’ve got mad love for you. And I use mad love a lot actually in my daily speech. That’s mad good, mad real, et cetera.
“In the beginning of the year, when I started on this album, I got into the studio while at the end of this relationship that I wasn’t really able to let go of, and Mad Love is a product of talking about that. Sometimes the emotions are so strong that you stay in it because it’s so exhilarating. What you get from it is passion and crazy and intensity, even though it might not be good for you. It’s so abundant, it’s so strong, and it’s what you’re used to and what you end up craving. That’s the standpoint that I wrote it from. When I think of all the different meanings that Mad Love can take on, I felt like it would be perfectly representative of this project after so long, and the way I feel about my fans, the people who have stuck by me during all this time and grown with me and encouraged me. What I feel for them is just the mad love.”
“Mad Love” is part pop, part R&B, part soul. A blend that most artists wouldn’t approach, much less pull off. It’s no surprise coming from her, though, because she’s never stuck to just one genre. At this point, it would be more of a surprise if JoJo wasn’t blending sounds. She’s never been afraid to show that you can be more than just one thing.
The decade-long wait for JoJo’s third project has almost reached its end. “Fuck Apologies” reminded listeners that the years of label turmoil hadn’t softened her edges. With “Mad Love,” she reminds us what has always set her apart. She can be radio when she wants to and then pull a full 180 and give us a timeless love song, one that you can play over and over again.
Mad Love will be released October 14. Preorder it on iTunes here.