First lyric on the album: “This is not the girl you used to know…” Chorus of the last song on the (deluxe version) album: “I’m just the same girl…” So far so good, J.Lo!
To be fair to her, she’s at least got the title right. While she’s a multi-hyphenate in the entertainment industry, her albums have also managed to stay pretty much on trend, with her last album, 2011’s Love?, sandblasting the dancefloor with EDM bangers from Lady Gaga’s favorite producer. This time out, and she (as has the rest of the world) has noticed that dance music is on its last legs, so it’s back to the R’n’B well.
T.I., Pitbull, Iggy Azalea, Nas, French Montana (twice) and Rick Ross appear throughout, and as a general rule of thumb, if Jenny is singing by herself, then it’s probably a dud song. When left to her own devices, she floods the album with drippy mid-tempo love songs or even drippier woe-is-me ballads, and no amount of good intentions or great production can hide the fact that Lopez can’t really carry a tune if it wasn’t custom built to be danced along to.
Think back over Lopez’s career, do any of her highlights involve balladry? Nope. It’s all “Jenny From The Block”, “Get Right”, “Waiting For Tonight” or “On The Floor”, so when it comes to this album, you’ll find yourself skipping the likes of “Never Satisfied”, “Emotions”, “Let It Be Me” and “So Good”.
On the flip-side, we’ve got “Acting Like That” with Iggy Azalea, which is probably the closest Lopez has ever gotten to a full-on hip-hop track, with its ratchet base and slinky vocals. “I Luh Ya Papi” will undoubtedly end up on a future Greatest Hits collection, a total girlos night out soundtrack, but all it does is point out the lack of fun to be found elsewhere on the album.
Fun-time merchant Max Martin shows up as writer only on “First Love”, go-to hit-maker Sia co-penned “Expertease” which only shows up on the Deluxe Version, as does two of the best upbeat tracks on the album, “Tens” which almost goes full-on Jamacian dancehall, and “Troubeaux” is built on a similar trumpet beat as “Get Right”, but taken in a far less euphoric direction.
And then there’s “Booty”. Co-penned by Diplo, with a fun verse by Pitbull (we never thought we’d actually write those words), and Lopez on her most flirtatiously playful. The final track on the normal version of the album, it’s a closing reminder of why we all love Lopez The Musician, but then remind us that the rest of A.K.A. isn’t filled with this kind of infectious fun.
We’re all for a return of old school Jenny, but not if it means she’s gone and grown up and forgotten how to have any fun.
2.5 / 5