JoJo first impressed us all way back when in 2004 when she was just 13 years old with her hit song “Leave (Get Out)” and her first two albums sold pretty well. However, she’s kept herself on the down low since then, having only released two mixtapes and an EP and doing a few gigs here and there in the last few years. She had the potential to be a big star but perhaps didn’t want the celebrity life that comes with fame growing up as a teenager, who knows. But now she’s back (she’s signed with a big label again) to release a third album and has created a bit of hype around it with the release of a “tringle” (three singles at the same time), which you can listen to here.
Now I’m not going to review them or talk about them as you can make your own mind up about them but I’m sure many big media outlets will get on that. Instead, I’m going to give you all 5 reasons why I feel JoJo is an underrated singer and artist and why, if you don’t know much about her or what she can do, you shouldn’t be sleeping on her.
1) She has an impressive range.
With a vocal range that spans approximately just over 3 octaves, JoJo’s voice easily puts many others to shame: she can support and resonate notes down into the upper 2nd and lower 3rd octave with relative ease – far better than the average female singer can AND do so all the way into the 6th octave using a connected head voice or a nice falsetto. And being a mezzo-soprano, she can even rival some sopranos in the upper register.
Ridiculously comfortable in the lower register and great clarity in the belting range and head voice/falsetto.
Jump to 6:22 onwards for notes above C6 (Soprano C).
2) Her runs are SICK.
Clearly influenced by R&B, soul and gospel singers such as the great Mariah and Whitney, JoJo has learnt to be able to execute some very nice riffs and runs that are fast, agile and musical, such as in the first video below of her sliding between two octaves in a matter of seconds.
3) Her voice has improved ten-fold since she was 13 years old.
When she first started out, JoJo had an impressive voice for such a young girl with little to no training, though she was often a little pitchy or strained on the higher notes. However, she’s clearly taken her voice seriously since then and worked hard to keep her lower register solid (it was already pretty good at a young age) and worked on making her belts fuller and more consistent, as well as improved her head voice, use of runs and overall technique. There is literally no other young singer her age that has come so far in terms of vocal growth, so if you compare her between then and now you’ll surely be really surprised.
See how in the first clips she is awfully flat, thin and strained but since 2010 her execution of the note has gradually improved in technique, pitch and resonance, with the best ones being in the 2013 onwards timeframe. NB: Being a mezzo, F5 is pretty much the limit of her voice type when it comes to consistent belting, so this is pretty good.
Special mention for this song. Her technique is flawless! She sings with a semi-classical placement to resonate and project her voice in the upper registers, her vocal and breath control is lovely as is her smooth vibrato and her runs are agile and complementary to the music. And her head voice is DIVINE. Ariana BLANDe could never.
4) She’s a good songwriter.
In her first two albums JoJo didn’t really have much input into her material, only contributing to one or two songs overall. However, she has shown on her mixtapes that she is in fact a good songwriter and either single-handedly wrote or co-wrote every song that wasn’t a cover on both. And although writing credits for her new singles hasn’t been released, we can expect she did co-write them too. Her songwriting skills from her mixtapes show she has a pretty good theoretical knowledge of music, as well as a creative mind when it comes to harmonies, melodies and lyrics/themes/genres. Check out her mixtapes where all bar one song was written by her in full below:
5) Her covers of other artists’ songs are amazing.
While gigging over the past few years JoJo has covered a number of songs that she loves and it’s interesting to see how eclectic her music taste is and how she strays away from typical artists that most young divas like to cover, like Mariah/Whitney/Celine/Xtina/Beyonce songs. With all her covers she keeps them tasteful so they are not overdone and over-filled with vocal acrobatics, nor are they changed drastically to a point where you have no idea what the song is. Here are a select few of many great covers she’s done:
She first recorded a cover of SWV’s “Weak” on her debut album and has continued to perform it since, sounding even better with age and a more refined voice.
Putting Sam Smith to shame.