Saturday, October 11, 2014

A.K.A. | Jennifer Lopez


Jennifer Lopez has been known for years as a Jill-of-a-trades in Hollywood. Classically, she's known as Jenny from the block and the actress that played the leading role in the 1997 Selena Quintanilla-Pérez biopic. Following a small stint on American Idol and a greatest hits compilation disc, Lopez is trying to revitalize her career with a starring role in cheap movie as a teacher that has sex with her student and the release of her tenth studio album, A.K.A.

Her last studio album, Love?, was stapled with RedOne productions like "On The Floor" and "Papi," and only contained one track with Lopez listed as a co-writer. Fast forward to A.K.A., Jennifer Lopez has writing credits for nine of the ten standard tracks, with most of the tracks being hip-hop/pop hybrids influenced by her love life and recently-finalized divorce from Marc Anthony. In fact, A.K.A. opens with its title track, a hip-hop infused banger in which Lopez proclaims (presumably to her ex-husband), "Now our faces never stick around / A.K.A / Never hold you down / A.K.A / Can't figure it out / A.K.A / You don't know me now."

Just like this album, the first and second singles were also met with massively underwhelming commercial success. The tragically-titled "I Luh Ya Papi" finds J.Lo singing in a pouty, indecipherable manner over a bubbly instrumental - and the featured verse from rapper French Montana only sinks the track further into an infamous bin full of singles that never should have been. However, "First Love" can be seen as the deserved hit that never was; it's another urban inspired pop track with a killer chorus that indefinitely sticks with the listener.

One of the biggest stars to emerge this summer, Iggy Azalea, slides in a verse on "Acting Like That," a track that loses its touch within its first minute; there's no real climax anywhere to latch onto. However, Lopez and Azalea hooked back up recently for an alternative version to the newest single to be lifted from this album, "Booty." (The album version of "Booty" includes an inevitable featured verse from Pitbull, but his edit has been paid dust in order to ride off of the Iggy Azalea wave.) In essence, "Booty" is J.Lo's take on Nicki Minaj's "Anaconda" before the latter track was even released. Thanks to the two big-booty divas, having a lusciously large hind-end has never felt so good.

In addition to all of these cut-and-paste twerk-anthems, J.Lo serves up a slew of ballads. The ballad selections on this album are all pretty similar in terms of composition; the choruses swell with emotion, while everything else in the song is rather flat. "Never Satisfied" features an in-love Lopez belting, "I'm never satisfied / Honey my appetite, it's keeping me up at night / I'm going crazy for more of your love," while the piano and synth led "Emotions" finds J.Lo at a stalemate in a relationship: "All I ever wanted was your time / Right now I don't even have the patience / I'm tired of waiting for you / I just want to let go." 

"Emotions" is followed in the track listing by a weak line-up of "So Good," "Let It Be Me," and "Worry No More." The first two tracks fall victim to the same problem as "Acting Like That" and become dirges after a minute or so thanks to their lackluster production and choruses. Most, if not all, of the songs on A.K.A. thrive on the ear-catching chorus, and when the chorus sucks, there's no hope left for the rest of the track. Meanwhile, "Worry No More" relies on auto-tuned vocals and an unimpressive verse from Rick Ross; need I say more?

With its small selection of slick earworms and barely-satisfactory power ballads, I was starting to ask myself if I had ignorantly disregarded this album prematurely. However, I realized that the main problem is that the standard price of the album just didn't match the utility price for a handful of disposable, dated bops and repetitive ballads. In layman's terms, the problem isn't that I discounted A.K.A. too soon; the problem is that Target didn't discount A.K.A. soon enough.

A.K.A. is available now under Capitol Records. An exclusive version can be found at Target department stores.

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