When 26-year-old pop singer JoJo took the stage at Buckhead Theatre singing a song titled “Clovers” from her most recent album, it felt slightly ironic on the surface.
Since breaking out with her first hit “Leave (Get Out)” at 13-years-old, the singer hasn’t necessarily had the best luck. Although her debut and sophomore albums were both hits, it took the soulful pop star a decade to release her third album. According to a lawsuit filed by the singer, a record deal with Blackground Records, run by Aaliyah’s uncle Barry Hankerson, left her unable to release an official album. She was released from the contract and signed a deal with Atlantic Records in 2014. In the 10 years it took for her to record her third album, JoJo kept fans interested by releasing free mixtapes and EPs.
The opening song’s title doesn’t tell the whole story. As the song’s lyrics suggest, the “Mad Love Tour” is a result of perseverance, not luck.
With 10 years between her second and third albums, 2016’s “Mad Love,” the singer is currently working to reintroduce herself to the masses. She was 16 the last time she had a hit single.
Donning a see-through, cleavage and butt-baring bodysuit, JoJo worked to prove to fans at the sold-out show that the wait was worth it.
She also hammered in the fact that she’s all grown up.
When singing the fun, EDM-inspired song “When Love Hurts,” she held on to the microphone stand and swayed her hips until she reached the ground. During the beginning of the show, she covered up with a denim jacket. The jacket had been removed by the time she called a fan up on stage, tied his hands behind his back and placed a blindfold over his eyes. What followed was a confident, seductive lap dance as her song “High Heels” played in the background. JoJo is known for her powerful voice, but this moment put the spotlight on her ability to captivate an audience without belting out the big notes.
JoJo giving a man a lap dance might surprise people who haven’t been keeping up with the singer since her teenage years. But the crowd knew every word to the singer’s explicit cover of “Marvin’s Room,” which she released while waiting to be freed from her contract with Blackground. Cleary, the fans who were in attendance were fully aware of sexually explicit JoJo. They embraced her.
The moments were certainly entertaining, but the highlights of the show were, unsurprisingly, the songs that showcased JoJo’s voice. Her raspy vocals and intricate vocal runs were on full display during “Music.” The first portion of the heartfelt ballad sounded nearly identical to the studio version, but the crowd had to finish singing the song because the verse about the singer’s late father made her emotional.
Other great moments included sing-along moments to the singer’s old breakup anthems “Leave (Get Out)” and “Too Little, Too Late,” as well as her most recent kiss-off singles “FAB” and “[Expletive] Apologies.” Although much of the audience were teenagers when JoJo’s older material was released, the songs have held up well and proved to be just as loved as her new material amongst the crowd.
Sonically, the setlist of this show was all over the place, but that’s to be expected with an artist whose career has followed the trajectory of JoJo’s. And, while many may argue her provocative moves were a way for her to prove she’s not the same 13-year-old that we first met in 2004, fans who have been following the singer throughout the years would likely counter that this has always been her personality. She’s just finally in the spotlight again.
For casual fans, this show served as a sufficient reintroduction to JoJo. But, for the Atlanta fans who screamed along to every song, it was affirmation that all of their support and patience paid off.