By Beth McGrath
I’m not one to hide behind my guilty pleasures and I’m going to hold my hands up right now and admit that I absolutely love the Jonas Brothers and have even gone as far to fly to another country to see them. A year ago the band went on a break whilst Kevin got married and Nick went away to explore a solo project and starred in Les Miserables as Marius in the summer of 2010 in London, Link Larkin in Hairspray at the Hollywood Bowl in LA in August 2011 and soon to take over Daniel Radcliffe in How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying on Broadway.
Joe Jonas shied away from the music industry so it seemed, but has recently come back out solo efforts of his own. Joe has undertaken a shift in musical direction from the pop-rock stylings of Jonas Brothers, drawing influences instead from urban genres, electro-pop and R&B.
My first shock was the parental advisory sticker sitting in the corner of the CD of Joe’s debut solo album “Fastlife”. Granted this is mainly because of a remix on the album with Lil’ Wayne, but the lyrics of the songs on this album are far from the sweet disney-fied pop of the Jonas Brothers’ work. Joe’s music video for second single “Just in Love” caused some controversy between younger fans being not what I would describe as risqué, just not exactly expected from someone who’s career started and grew with Disney. VH1 says of the video, “It’s a smart play: as he toes the line of ‘adult’ representation regarding sex, which everybody notices, he slyly introduces a more grown-up aesthetic in the background. And for our money, it works.” It seems that people seem to forget that Joe is not a 16 year old boy singing what Disney approved, he is a 22 year old man who has grown up and wishes to express this.
Whilst Joe is still signed to Hollywood Records a part of the Disney Music Group and Universal Records, that’s about as much as he’s connected to the Disney Channel these days. Considering that most of Joe’s fans are now in their late teens, mostly over the age of 18, it’s a great move.
The first single “See No More” still has the typical pop rock soundings but contains usage of synths and contains an R&B presence. The song was co-written between Joe and Chris Brown who also provides backing vocals throughout the chorus.
The second single “Just in Love”, released yesterday in the UK and produced by Rob Knox is more a dance track with latin influences and a thumping beat. Joe explained that, “This is a song I wrote when I was going through a relationship with somebody. She was arguing with me, and all I could do was say ‘Listen, I love you, but we don’t need to go through this.”
Not all the tracks are accompanied with a heavy beat as the album slows down considerably with “Sorry”, rumoured among fans to be penned as an apology to Taylor Swift, although ladies man Joe could have also wrote this for ex girlfriends and actresses Camilla Belle or Ashley Greene. The song seems a sincere apology, explaining his pain of the breakup. “You’re the atmosphere / And now you’re gone I can’t live / Tell me what to do / I feel the pain all over my body. / Was it the things I said? / Can I take them back? / Baby, cause without you there’s nothing left of me….. / Baby, what can I do to show you I’m sorry?”
Allison Stewart wrote a positive review for Washington Post. Stewart wrote that “Fastlife, is exactly what it should be, a fizzy, danceable, R&B-steeped club pop album that greases Jonas’s transition to pop adulthood.”
Title track “Fastlife” has an electric, fast, chorus that showcases the urban influences within the album. Joe is said to of chosen this as the title track as “Fastlife” describes crazy lifestyle that he lives.
Whilst I agree that a lot of people will still consider Joe a pop act before anything else, this is a great start to expand his fan base and show others that he can venture into other genre’s successfully. He gets a lot more UK airplay than the Jonas Brothers ever did, and I have even caught people singing the lyrics to “See No More” and them not even realising that it was a Joe Jonas song.
Fastlife comes out in the UK on October 24th and the second single, "Just in Love" is out now on iTunes. Joe is currently supporting Britney Spears on the European leg of her tour and can been seen at the following dates in the U.K and Republic of Ireland:
The O2 Arena, Dublin - Mon 24/10/11
Odyssey Arena, Belfast - Tue 25/10/11
The O2 Arena, London - Thurs 27/10/11
The O2 Arena, London - Fri 28/10/11
The LG Arena, Birmingham - Sun 30/10/11
Wembley Arena, London - Mon 31/10/11