The universal mauling of 2003’s dire rom-com “Gigli” must have come as something of a shock to Jennifer Lopez. It was the first clear sign that J. Lo the brand wasn’t bullet proof. And while everyone’s entitled to a stinker now and then, for Lopez there was more than pride riding on her continued success. Figurehead for the ultimate multi-media empire – comprising film, music, perfumes and lingerie – she can’t afford to be anything other than A-list.
Time to reassess then, be more discerning and, in musical terms, not rely so heavily on a handful of good singles to add to her sales of 35 million disappointing albums. For her fourth long player she’s finally turned the autopilot off and decided to take her pop career seriously. The album’s called “Rebirth” for a reason.
It’s not a perfect album, but she’s made worse – let’s not forget that 2001’s J. Lo needed the combined talents of Ja Rule and Ashanti to come in and salvage its lacklustre tracks just to fulfil its three single quota. Certainly, immediate, unshakable tunes like that of first single, the phenomenal hip-hop hip-shaker “Get Right”, are thin on the ground; it’s far and away the best thing here. But there’s a higher than average count of worthy runners-up.
Keeping the twee ballads to a minimum, and proving that she means business, Lopez has amassed an impressive team to give her something more interesting to murmur breathlessly to. Timbaland ushers in his unmistakable skittering beat for the melancholic “He’ll Be Back”. Outkast’s Big Boi puts a spring in the step of the blissfully loved-up “Still Around” and even Rodney “Darkchild” Jerkins bucks his recent trend for second rate R&B, digging deep for the dreamy Arabian strut of “Step Into My World” and “I Got U”’s sunny block party sway.
Still, anyone thinking that she’s turned over a completely new leaf can think again. Focused, slick and likable as “Rebirth” undeniably is in places, the fact that the Limited Edition comes with a sample of Ms Lopez’s new “Miami Glow” fragrance, confirms, that it’s still just another shameless exercise in brand extension.