Jennifer Lopez hasn’t enjoyed the level of success with her music that she did in the earlier years of her career. Her first three studio albums were smashes across the globe but since then she’s struggled to match the success she’d grown accustomed to. Her last big hit was back in 2011 when she collaborated with Pitbull for the first time on On The Floor. Her last studio album Love?, also released in 2011, had a strong first week in most countries but the sales soon tallied off. Undeterred Lopez is back with her eighth studio album A.K.A. but can she turn things around?
A.K.A. arrives after a series of false starts which began earlier in the year with promotional singles Girls and Same Girl. Interestingly neither track features on the standard edition release of the album and only Same Girl made it onto the deluxe edition. This year Lopez returned to the American Idol panel, presumably in the hopes of once again getting a boost for her music, and released I Luh Ya Papi which failed to impact on the charts. Current single First Love teams Lopez with hit-maker Max Martin but once again the single is struggling at both radio and in the charts.
It’s a little confusing as to why Lopez is struggling to regain her once all-conquering chart status. As a performer she is one of the best in the game and she’s got an undeniable catalogue of hits. What A.K.A. highlights is her inconsistency as an artist in recent years. Her first four albums were a mixture of pop/R&B with an injection of hip-hop. After that period she jumped onto the EDM and dance bandwagon following the success of On The Floor but that hasn’t really worked for her past that single.
A.K.A. attempts to marry together all of the musical sounds Lopez has experimented with over the years. The album leans harder on hip-hop and R&B than her more recent efforts and what it lacks is a real killer hit. The album opens with title track A.K.A. and sees Lopez teaming up with T.I. claiming ‘this is not the girl you used to know’, a message she contradicts throughout the album by claiming to be the same girl she always was. C’mon J.Lo which one is it?
There are glimpses of what this album could have been like the refreshingly different mid-tempo Never Satisfied and the dreamy beats of So Good. Whilst neither of these songs are a match for her signature hits they are easily the best the album has to offer. Even the swag-driven Acting Like That featuring Iggy Azalea is a song that shows a different side of Lopez.
Much of the album frustratingly sits in the middling to forgettable area. Ballad Let It Be Me has a nice enough sentiment but it’s a real stretch vocally for Lopez whilst Booty is another gimmicky collaboration with Pitbull that isn’t all that different from every other song the two have done together. The less we say about the naff I Luh Ya Papi the better.
A.K.A. is an album that grows on you but there’s no killer moments that’ll keep it booming out of your stereo. We suggest J.Lo stays away from Pitbull (please!) and revisits the uptempo bangers that we love her for. We were expecting an album more along the lines of J.Lo with A.K.A. but sadly it doesn’t even come close.