How does one even begin to critique today’s pop music? With all the tweaking, Auto-Tuning and layering going on I have no idea what most artists truly sound like. With enough money and the right producers even someone like Kim Zolciak from The Real Housewives of Atlanta
can sound un-horrible. But this is Jennifer Lopez, and she ain’t no housewife. Anymore. She also ain’t Jenny from the block, either. Unless that block is in a fully gated community with 24-hour security manned by hot young backup dancers. Fab was recently sent her latest CD/DVD disc, JLO Dance Again . . . The Hits
. I’m reviewing it. Which is odd, considering I usually can only handle pop music when it’s been remixed. To death.
The CD/DVD compilation double disk includes a booklet chock full of sultry pictures of the Latina goddess. At 43, she looks hotter than ever. Sixteen tracks are included, created by teams of writers and producers. How many people does it take to write one song for a pop star these days? Apparently many, many, many. Only five tracks are actually co-written by Lopez; most notable is her hit "Jenny from the Block." This song, which cemented her status as a pop icon, is supposed to be about her humble roots. From her point of view. In actuality, a whopping 11 other writers are also credited with penning her life story. That’s one crowded block, bitch.
The DVD, which contains eight music videos, is a great bonus. If you want inspiration of what was hot to wear or perhaps some dance moves, it’s the perfect party-prep material. My faves are “On the Floor,” which for a brief three seconds shows Jenny from behind bouncing that fine ass of hers in a pair of loose, black, drop-crotch harem pants (damn); "Get Right," which allows Jenny to showcase her acting chops by playing six different characters; “I’m Real" and “Feelin’ So Good,” both for their colour schemes and simple, street story lines (not to mention that matching pink fleece hoodie and booty shorts that would later be worn on teen girls everywhere); and “Dance Again,” for its cheesy choreographed orgy. “Jenny from the Block”
is, of course, also included, even though it co-stars her ex-boyfriend Ben Affleck. Note to Lopez: never put them in your video. Ever.
Let’s hit the dancefloor. My remixer is on stand-by.
1) "Dance Again" (video included)
The CD opens with Pit Bull rapping and JLo singing about dancing, loving and all things that come in between. For JLo, both at the same time would be perfect. Cue hot, shirtless back-up dancer number five. Danceable, sing-able; listening to it makes me wanna bounce my ass all over the dancefloor (and then on some 700-count bed sheets) with pure abandon. It will get you moving.
2) "Going In"
Pure happy, hopeful build-up dancefloor synth ecstasy. It is the best night of her life and is basically about going in to the centre of the dancefloor and going crazy. It’s what everyone should do. All the day. A metaphor of how we should always live our lives. All day. With buildup after buildup after buildup, it makes me wanna explode all over the dancefloor . . . and someone’s face. Maybe Flo Rida’s. Perhaps my favourite track on this compilation, it’s the one that sounds most like a remix. It also contains one of the best lines on the album: “Tonight we go orangutan. Bananas!”
3) "I’m Into You"
Things get slowed down slightly with this sexy track with the aid of the dirty, scratchy, sketchy vocals of Young Money’s Lil Wayne. When Lopez sings, “I’m into you, I’m in to you
,” Wayne comes back with, “I’m so wet, I need a wet suit.”
Wrap. It. Up. Listening to it makes me wanna wind my waist and grind up in someone’s back business until my credit card is spent.
4) "On the Floor" (video included)
Featuring Pit Bull, this jumpy, bumpy song is runway worthy. Hold your head high, back straight, legs out and walk, walk, walk, kick and twirl. The only part that throws me about this song is the airy-fairy “la-la-la” lyric section that breaks up the beats. It's like she stopped being fierce and decided to be fluff. Listening to it makes me wanna feel up Pit Bull’s pinga.
5) "Love Don’t Cost a Thing" (video included)
A Cinderella love song. Big drums-beating echo at the start of this track for a woman who claims to have an even bigger heart. It’s about pure love not pure bling. The pumpkin, not the Hummer carriage it turns into. A message we all know was aimed at former lover Sean “Big Puffy Diddy Daddy I Can’t Really Rap” Combs, whose son, by the way, produces a few of the tracks on this CD. Listening to it makes me wanna do the chicken head with my neck while I put one hand on my hips and wag my finger back and forth with the other. When Lopez sings, “Think I wanna I drive your Benz, I don’t. / If I wanna floss, I got my own,
” I yell, “Tell it, girl!”
6) "If You Had My Love" (video included)
Even though new instruments, Latin guitar riffs and violins, in particular, open this track, something seems missing. The lyrics and beats don’t quite match up. Lopez always seems one step ahead, even though you can tell by her super-stretched-out words that she’s trying to slow it down. What ends up happening is she sounds slightly mentally challenged. Listening to it makes me wanna lie in a hammock with a pitcher of mojitos and just keep drinking until I fall out of it.
7) "Waiting for Tonight" (video included)
This has always been one of my favourite songs. More so because of the cunty club remixes done by such great DJs as Peter Rauhofer and Victor Calderone. These remixes aren’t part of the collection, but the song still works in its original form. With small buildups, it’ll get you energized but won’t wear you out. It makes me wanna roller blade around the city free-balling in cutoff sweat pants . . . waiting for something decadently bad to happen. Day or night.
8) "Get It Right" (video included)
I love the horns throughout this track. It gives it that little extra jazzy oomph, but if played out too long it could be very annoying, like that kid on the airplane who keeps repeating the same word over and over again. Luckily this doesn’t happen, but for some reason Lopez sings in a very high falsetto through this track. Perhaps she’s trying to show her vocal range. She shouldn’t. It’s actually kind of annoying. But the casual hooks provided by Fabulous balance things out. Listening to it makes me wanna play hop-scotch while sipping 10-year-old scotch with 10-year-old streetwise kids of Scottish ancestry from one of the five boroughs of New York. Queens! Maybe the Bronx.
9) "Jenny from the Block" (video included)
Slowing down the tempo, this classic is a rebuttal to everyone who thought money had changed her street style. But anyone who mentions being on Oprah
while pointing out she’s still the same ghetto girl is a bit redic. Who is she fooling? Who cares? Styles P and Jadakiss are brought on for this remix to give it a bit more street cred. The lyrics are easily digestible and repeatable. “Don’t be fooled by the rocks that I got/ I’m still, I’m still, Jenny from the block.”
I picture a murderer listening to this while singing, “Don’t be fooled by the severed cock in my wok. I’m still, I’m still, Jeffrey from the block.” Fooled ya!
10) "I’m Real" (video included)
Sexy, short beats. Sexy tight lyrics. They work perfectly together. They gently push, push, push like a considerate lover, instead of ramming home unnecessary shit. It’s not the amount of beats per second or words in your flow; it’s how you use them. Ja Rule’s deep growl only adds to this thought. Listening to it makes me wanna strut down the street in a pair of ratty cutoff jeans shorts while slowly gobbling down a chocolate ice cream Drumstick.
11) "Do It Well" (video included)
Here we go. The big beastly beats return. JLo is on the prowl looking for a good man. Her backup singers, though, almost steal this song away from her, but Lopez comes back to balance things out with a military-ish Janet Jackson-ish "Rhythm Nation"-like section midway through. It works to keep interest, because, quite frankly, there aren’t too many lyrics or much musical mastery to this track. Listening to it makes me wanna tap my feet, while knitting a pair of mesh underwear.
12) "Ain’t It Funny" (video included)
Slow like sweet molasses, this track once again is about JLo’s boy problems. But it don’t matter. She just laughs it off. The beat is light and skippy. Nothing heavy. Nothing hard. Kinda boring, but then Ja Rule and Cadillac Tah jump in to shake things up like some loud construction workers who have been left out in the sun too long. Listening to it makes me wanna have a picnic with three anorexic bears. More beats for me.
13) "Feelin’ So Good" (video included)
The maracas, light beats and smart use of silent pauses give this track an easy-listening feel. Big Pun and Fat Joe sound warm and endearing, and even though they would probably crush JLo to death if they had an actual physical three-way, this ménage-à-trois of vocals is perfectly matched, word for word, beat for beat. Listening to it makes me wanna smile at everyone on the subway, before doing a pole dance in a Velcro Valentino business suit.
14) "All I Have"
The back and forth between Lopez and LL Cool J works well. It’s like a contrived conversation between two lovers . . . who speak in rhyme. And we’re an invisible friend listening in the corner with a bucket of buttery popcorn. Her high-octave pitch in this song works better than it did in “Get It Right.”
It has a retro throwback feel, and her high vocal pitch demands and low wanting dips slide in and out of LL’s steady, deep, confident comebacks. No lube needed. Listening to it makes me wanna rub melted butter all over my nether regions while picking popcorn kernels out of my teeth.
15) "Qué Hiciste
This is the only Spanish-language song on the CD. I have no idea what she’s singing, but a feeling of power and yearning permeate throughout. Powerful sections of loud instrumentals and intense balladlike whining are balanced out with lighter segments where Lopez sings quietly over a sparse guitar melody. Listening to it makes me wanna take Spanish lessons in Spain in the rain . . . with Eliza Doolittle.
16) "Let’s Get Loud
The CD ends with a banging Latin-infused dance track penned by one of my favourite singers, Gloria Estefan. By the way, Estefan wrote this with just ONE other person, not the average six writers who had their hand in creating every other song on this CD. But then again, singing “Let’s get loud” over and over again for most of the song doesn’t require that many rewrites. Listening to it makes me wanna hop in a yellow Mustang convertible and cruise Ocean Drive with guys wearing little clothing and girls wearing too much makeup.
JLo’s teams of producers and writers have presented a balanced collection of greatest hits worthy of her voice. This yummy mommy ain’t no dummy. Some good dancefloor treats, some sweet ballads and only two “hits,” which I consider slight misses. I didn’t need to call in my personal DJ remixer after all.
Rating: 8 out of 10
— Rolyn Chambers