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Jennifer Lopez: J.Lo

Jennifer Lopez
Label: Epic
Genre: R&B;
File Under: So-so J-Lo in slo-mo
Rating: 50

Jennifer Lopez
It's not so surprising that Jennifer Lopez has released a second disc that sounds an awful lot like her first. After all, pop stars are notorious for repeating themselves — especially when they had smashing success with a formula or even a particular sound the first time through.

But the booty-ful señorita isn't just repeating herself once via J.Lo, which might as well be named On the 6-1/2 for all its similarities to her debut disc. Instead, she's giving us déjà vu all over and over and over again by basically sticking to the same set of sonic templates throughout the 15-track album, never making much effort to shift up the tempos, melodies, and structures. (It doesn't help, either, that she's got one of the most limited vocal ranges this side of Britney Spears, making her heavily processed vocals sound largely the same from track to track.)

And strangely enough, Lopez — who first caught the world's eye dancing with the Fly Girls — doesn't do much for the dance floor along the tediously repetitive way, sticking mostly with plodding mid-tempo fare that lacks the sort of spark that makes her obvious idol Madonna's music so successful in clubland.

"Love Don't Cost a Thing," the lead single which makes an interesting attempt at weaving a complicated vocal tapestry through so many overdubs, limps along like a Destiny's Child 45 played at 33 rpm. "We Gotta Talk" rips off the same group — and suffers the same slow-mo fate, even in spite of a few of those trademark She'kspere double-time beats.

"Ain't It Funny," which steals its melody wholesale from Madonna's "La Isla Bonita," has a better rhythmic base, but it still sort of runs in place, as though Lopez recorded it while standing on a treadmill. "Dance With Me" hardly inspires fast-flying feet, either, with a layered loop that comes up a few BPMs — and a whole lot of dynamics — short of generating any real rhythmic heat. Even the album's pure Latin numbers, like "Cariño," seem a bit too slow, lacking any real punch.

Only the funked-up, synth-based "Walking on Sunshine" (an apparent hybrid of Madonna's "Music" and Prince's "Sexy MF") and the thumping, cascading "That's Not Me" (the only Destiny's Child rip here that works) make you want to instinctively kick out the jams.

It's just too bad that Lopez doesn't change up those jams — and their tempos — as much as she switches hairstyles. Otherwise, we might be talking about more than a so-so J.Lo. Josh Freedom du Lac

Josh Freedom du Lac is the pop culture guru at the Sacramento Bee.

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