Love don't cost a thing, maybe, but all the money in the world can't make Jennifer Lopez sound credible...
Three years ago, despite some choice film roles, Jennifer Lopez was merely a name rappers and actors dropped as their ideal date. Since then she’s become Hollywood’s taste of the exotic and the most successful Latin actress ever. Alongside her iconic boyfriend, Sean ‘Puffy’ Combs, Lopez is the epitome of urban gliterrati: ‘bling bling’ to the fullest, she is high fashion’s sole voluptuous mannequin and to the tabloids, well, she’s more return value that an annual Travelcard.
On this basis, to imagine that Lopez would go on to sell more records than soul music’s favourtie daughter (Lauryn Hill) or pop music’s former doyenes (The Spice Girls) was laughable, but that’s exactly what she did with her 1999 debut, ‘On The 6’.
Building on the success of ‘On…’ and her aforesaid profiles (cinematic, personal and musical) comes Lopez’s second album, ‘J.Lo’. Although Lopez has shifted over seven million albums in the US alone, that doesn’t mean she is now officially accepted as a singer (we have come to accept so-so vocalists with big images rather than big voiced singers with so-so images, and Lopez resides in the former camp). Lopez’s voice still lacks character, depth and variation so, fittingly, her top notch producers (Rodney Jerkins, Sean ‘Puffy’ Combs) have submerged her voice in popular grooves of the day – cool pop, poppy r&b, evocative Spanish and Latin arrangements, moody balladry – to distract from her limitations. Wise.
But despite the team’s collective wisdom and skill, there are only two real stand-outs on this fifteen track CD: ‘I’m Real’, a feel-good soul/disco number, heavily inspired by Michael Jackson, and ‘Carino’, a clever exploitation of the Latino/Spanish craze which samples the classic ‘Sorifito’. In between these two rests the international Number One single ‘Love Don’t Cost A Thing’ and some shockingly poor tracks like ‘Walking On Sunshine’ and the Britney-esque prick tease ‘Come Over’.
‘J.Lo’ is a number of things. Proof that, at 30 years old, Lopez has no qualms about releasing an album geared to teens (in that respect, this is the album Janet Jackson and The Spice Girls should have made); but more than anything, ‘J.Lo’ is proof of how easily Lopez slots into the pop, r&b, Latin and urban markets. Sure, ‘J.Lo’ is competent, but like Lopez’s voice, it lacks sincerity and warmth. This album confirms that Lopez’s ambition to be as artistically ubiquitous is showing no signs of abating.