jlo-same-girl

J.Lo seems to want to prove something lately — and it’s troubling.

The issue started last week with the premiere of a video teaser for “Same Girl,” her (apparent) upcoming single.

Far from yet another “On The Floor” dance-pop regurgitation with Pitbull, the Amadeus, Chizzy, and Ryan M. Tedder-produced hip-hop-laced midtempo found the LOVE? Queen stepping away from the dance floor for the first time in a while and, erm…rap-singing.

“‘Cause I’m on the same grind/No, I never changed,” she proudly boasts. It’s sort of a sequel to “Jenny From The Block” — not that anyone asked for one — allowing Jennifer to reassure her audience that she’s…I don’t know, still conscious of her roots? (Or was it to make up for the Fiat ad thing?)

The video itself is cringe-inducing, as La Lopez rocks a fur jacket and a Yankees cap, rides the 6 train (On The 6 reference!) and poses in front of a spray-painted wall (“BRONX” — in case the point wasn’t loud and clear enough). But, oof: It’s all such awkward posturing. If anything, she looks like a tourist.

And now, there’s this: A DJ Mustard-produced ‘club banga,’ called “Girls.” The beat is hot — it’s a signature icy-R&B Mustard production, after all — but as as a song, it’s joyless: “The way this thing rollin’ and the smoke that you smokin’ feels good,” she purrs above tripping hi-hats. While a more #phucksfree diva like Rihanna could churn out a convincingly spooky club haunt like this one, J.Lo’s delivery just rings false. It’s as though every few years, we’re forced to endure a messy #SomethingMoreUrban tune. (Remember “Fresh Out The Oven”?)

Girl, you’re an international pop star — nobody’s trying to check your street status.

So what’s going on? What is J.Lo trying to prove, exactly? Is this all a bit like Madonna‘s Hard Candy moment? An urban-leaning record to appeal to the masses as a bid for relevancy? (But then, at least Hard Candy still sounded good…)

That’s not to say that J.Lo should continue riding on the Pitbull train toward EDM Town — in fact, I’m glad she finally got off. And she’s always given us a fair share of urban-pop! But this new material? This really isn’t cutting it. It’s surely not on the level of “Love Don’t Cost A Thing” or “I’m Real,” or even a “Do It Well” — and it most certainly isn’t a “Waiting For Tonight.”

What I’d like to hear from Miss Lopez? Some Darkchild, some Stargate, some Danja — major pop producers and talented up-and-comers coming together to craft a solid dance-pop/R&B record, just as she’s always done. Or how about BootsBey‘s BEYONCÉ mystery producer?

Basically, how do we get back to this?