'There's So Much Room To Be Yourself Now' Popstar JoJo On Growing Up And Moving On
The Debrief: After a lengthy legal battle, noughties popstar JoJo (now 25!) is back on the scene with a new album and, turns out, she's wiser than all of us. Here's what she has to say.
Ready to feel old? Noughties popstar JoJo, singer of excellent anthem Leave (Get Out), that song you no doubt screamed at school discos back in the day, is now 25-years-old.
Yeah. Somewhere along the line, 12 and a half years have passed. 12 and a half years that we're struggling to remember what we did with.
JoJo (Joanna Noëlle Blagden Levesque) for her part, has been keeping busy. Albeit not quite in the way she probably imagined way back then. After following up her debut album with The High Road (you remember Too Little Too Late) she had a number of acting roles in teen films. Then, she ran into trouble with her now former label, reportedly over what sort of album she should be making. 'For a while I went along with what my previous label wanted me to do because I just felt backed into a corner.' She told Newsbeat this week.
Now, finally, after eight years, and a whole bunch of legal struggles, JoJo is back, with her first full-length album in nearly a decade. Mad Love is great. It’s one of those albums that makes you feel strong, that makes you feel empowered, that makes you feel like doing a sasstastic walk down the high-street knowing full well you look like a total dick but inside, feeling like you can conquer the world. I'd highly recommend it for a Monday morning confidence boost.
We caught up with JoJo to find out how she went about creating the album, have a nostalgia session about the early noughties and to find out what she thinks about Donald Trump.
HELLO JOJO! JoJo how excited are you to put Mad Love?
Oh my gosh I am SO EXCITED to put it out and to be able to stop freaking out and obsessing about it!
Listening to the album you’d be forgiven for thinking you never get scared – have you got any qualms about releasing something after so long?
Oh my gosh one million percent. I am a strong woman but quite honestly, one of the songs I Am is still something that I need to listen to to present that strength and self-assuredness. Sometimes I write the songs I need to hear, like self-affirmations!
Are you a fan of self-affirmations?
I really like listening to affirmations in the morning. I love Tony Robbins. I’m reading one of his books called Unlimited Power right now. I’ve read a lot of books where I can start doing some work on building myself up because life is weird and I think we could all use a reminder that we’re OK, that we’re going to be good.
There’s a song called Fuck Apologies on Mad Love which you’ve said is a good message for young women. First off, hell yes, secondly why do you think young women grow up learning to be submissive?
It would be untrue if I said that my mom taught me to be submissive or apologetic because she taught me to be independent, self-reliant and individual. But I feel like society expects us to be sweet and make sure we don’t come across as a bitch. If you walk down the street and someone bumps into you I find myself saying ‘Oh gosh I’m sorry’ when I’m actually not. So I’ve become a lot more choosy with my apologies so they have more weight than they used to.
JoJo, you’ve been in the music industry for over TEN YEARS. What’s changed over that time?
There’s SO MUCH ROOM to be yourself now. I remember being told when I came into the industry that to be a ‘popstar’ you had to be skinny and you had to make certain kinds of song and you had to play the game and go through media training and make sure you said the right thing and didn’t offend people blah blah blah and it’s just not the case. Our generation is looking for authenticity. It’s looking for real people, real role models. I think it’s wonderful that you have so many ways that women are representing themselves. From Adele to Halsey to Kehlani to Alessia Cara to myself to Ellie Goudling… all of these women are different examples of how you can be beautiful, successful, true to yourself and expressive while not confirming to what used to work back in the day.
JoJo, one time when we were 15, we sang Leave to a boy that had cheated on my friend. It was pretty embarrassing looking back but I feel like that song inspired a lot in people. What’s the best story you’ve heard about it?
Honestly that’s one of the best stories I’ve heard. I mean that song did mean a lot to a lot of people. But mostly like I’ve heard that people have left voicemails for their exes with that song or they sent the video or something but yeah – yours takes the cake.
What your favourite mid-noughties outfit you wore?
Oh my god. Some of my outfits were pretty fucking hilarious but honestly I don’t hate them. I look back and I’m like that was kinda cute – I was 13! Oh, wait. OK so my outfit I wore at the VMAs in 2004. That was pretty hilarious. I had a side ponytail, some lime green Dolce and Gabbana boots and a denim mini skirt. It was SO early 2000s.
JoJo, you’ve been doing your bit to get your generation to vote in the upcoming US election. Are you nervous?
It’s our right to vote! I know it’s easy to feel like our vote doesn’t count but if we think that collectively then our vote really doesn’t count and I feel like it’s really the older generation that get that. That point means something to them and it needs to mean something to US so we can make sure that we’re heard because they’re not always going to be around! It’s not going to impact them like it’s going to impact us. I’m personally just very concerned about Donald Trump. I don’t like him! I think it’s time for a female president. I think Clinton is beyond qualified and I know there’s a lot of distractions and a lot of things that have happened that can make you question things but my main thing is I just don’t want to see Donald Trump in the White House!
JoJo Mad Love is out now on Atlantic Records. Get it here.
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