Wednesday, November 09, 2011

HEAR THIS: Joe Jonas is a "Love Slayer"

I've never hid my guilty-pleasure fueled addiction to the Jonas Brothers. You can judge me for it. I don't care. Three brothers who genuinely enjoy hanging out together, writing pop music together and playing instruments doesn't sound so lame to me.  

Nick may be the maestro of the group (if you haven't heard his solo disc via Nick Jonas & The Administration, you're missing out), but I'd be lying if I said my favorite JoBro wasn't middle brother, Joe -- the sexy, off-kilter, klutzy and slightly dangerous (by the Disney Standard) middle brother. This crush wasn't satiated at all when he announced his own solo plans -- it only made me crave more. Throw in that he wanted the feel to be much more Justin Timberlake Future Sex/Love Sounds-esque, and you had one manic chick with OJD (Obsessive Jonas Disorder, for those of you not in the know).

Unfortunately, by the time Fastlife finally made its way into my grubby little hands, the excitement behind the project had waned. A little of that was due to the unearned flopping of its first single, "See No More" -- a punchy little pop gem frighteningly co-written by Chris Brown. But the majority of my disinterest was due to the choice of its second single, Lil' Wayne-assisted "Just In Love". To me, it simply lacked any kind of spark or urgency that made me want to listen to the whole disc. Given the album's credit list reading like a who's who in contemporary urban pop (Claude Kelly, James Fauntelroy, Brian Kennedy, Adonis Shropshire), the fact that it has relatively stalled by chart standards is probably the biggest letdown of all. The vast majority of Fastlife was produced by Floyd "Danja" Hills, the Timbaland protege who helped create many of the highlights from Justin Timberlake's sophomore set that Joe's debut was supposedly channeling.

Fastlife is proof that no matter how promising the material can be or how A-list the producer is, a key component of what makes a pop record exciting is in the charisma and vocal execution if its popstar. Joe was never the vocal powerhorse of the Jonas family, nor did he ever claim to be. This showed through in just how limited his vocal range is -- so even his own brand of charisma (of which he has bucketfuls of) couldn't save him there. On several cuts, he seems a bit out of his league, as the delivery is just not as believable as it would have been if it was provided by Timberlake or Chris Brown.

There was one shining moment on the record for me though, beyond "See No More" which I do quite like. "Love Slayer", unsurprisingly one of the Danja-produced cuts, is a cut above the rest and pulsates in a perfect dancefloor crescendo with a tasteful use of Auto Tune. In its case, Joe's limited vocal range is spotlighted and it works. The magic is in the whirlwind chorus ("Love Slayer/Causing nothing but trouble, babe/And I want more of it/Love Slayer/Causing nothing but trouble, babe/And I think I love it"). It oozes just the right amount of sex appeal without making you feel uncomfortable as to who it's coming from. It's simple but effective and you find yourself gyrating along with the synths, mimicking the flash of strobelights in a dark, smokey club.

Check out Joe performing the song live on David Letterman below:

Why this wasn't the big selling point for the album, I'll never know. There's a reason this sucker scored Joe his only solo Top 10, and on the dance charts to boot.

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