This will be the first Western-style full promotion cycle I'll be watching over in years. And it only makes sense that it's of the act who started everything.
Like I said, it's been 5 years since "The High Road" in 2006 - obviously a lot of things will change, and a lot did. JoJo was 16 when THR was released - now she's 21 - her voice will have obviously changed a hell of a lot. Funny how even if I didn't have solid opinions in place, I still managed to be able to "invest" on acts who eventually really matured well vocally. Her smooth, silky voice is still there, but it's matured - she's obviously picked up technique over the years, but her voice itself has really grown. The squeaky-ness of her voice back then has been replaced by a gorgeous, deep timbre and her high notes have more body, more punch.
And that's utilized very well on the song. The song's SO SO SO JoJo - I heard the first line and it sounded like my childhood. Literally. Instead of being confused by entering the industry at such a young age, JoJo took advantage of it - "JoJo" taught her the ropes and by "The High Road" she knew who she was, and when that happens it's hard to ever let go of it. Of course the song sounds different from everything else she's put out, but that spark she had back then - it never disappeared.
We've heard those synths before, we've seen those dynamics so many times already, and the melodies are nothing new - the song is so familiar yet so fresh. She's matured but she hasn't lost what made her, her.
The verses start out strong, they're very packed, then slowly the song escalates at the bridge - you'd expect the chorus to explode, but all the explosions are on the melody/vocals side. The middle 8 is strong - it didn't blow me away, but it fits the song and it's a very logical middle 8. A melody like that would tend to make the vocals scream-y and shrill, but on this they're not - because this is JoJo we're talking about, the girl knows how to SING her head off properly. Not scream - SING. Her voice is melodic and deep, but it can and will go up if it needs to.
I must say, this whole pop/rock thing is working for her, and her vocals. The song is very punchy, somewhat choppy - but her smooth vocals give it the needed contrast and smoothen everything out - it allows her to let loose, but not loose it. There's something like a harmonious contrast going on, and it works. Very well.
Words cannot express how much I adore the instrumental arrangement of this. Everything is sharp and smooth but with conviction - the drums are stunning, the synths are appropriate and give the song color, and everything thrown together is mind-blowing. You know how I call Korean production a chocolate chip cookie with nuts and Japanese production a cheesecake - this is a cross between the two, and my god does it make me want to faint. Stunning.
She's back. Truly. BRING ON THE ALBUM!
Listen to the song here.