Release Date: May 3, 2011
Record label: Island
Genre(s): Pop, Adult Contemporary, Vocal, Pop/Rock, Dance-Pop, Latin Pop
Jennifer Lopez is a great idea. A gorgeous Nuyorican singer, movie star and, now, American Idol judge — on paper, she's a perfect fit for a 21st-century pop culture that has collapsed old genre barriers. But the reality of Jennifer Lopez is...blah. Love? arrives with shiny production credits — Tricky Stewart and the-Dream, RedOne, Stargate.
Jennifer Lopez, who was floated as a possible replacement for Paula Abdul on American Idol as early as two years ago, seems like an almost too-perfect proxy for the flighty former-pop-star-turned-talent-judge. The notable difference is that Abdul was never able to exploit her newfound visibility to reignite her music career, while Lopez, ever the shrewd businesswoman, didn’t wait more than a few weeks after her inaugural appearance on Fox’s reality juggernaut to premiere her comeback single, “On the Floor. ” (To its credit, the song’s unapologetic mix of Ibiza beats and unrelenting hooks—lifted from Kaoma’s 1989 hit “Lambada”— play to both Lopez’s strengths and radio’s current fascination with European dance beats.
Hard to believe, but just last year Jennifer Lopez’s career looked like it was about to go Louboutins-up — possibly for good. After she flopped in theaters with The Back-up Plan and split with her longtime record label, Sony, the question mark in LOVE? (originally slated for release last spring) went from figurative to all-too-real. Then a rebooted American Idol started its annual search for a star — only to find one right at its own judges’ table.
Given her promotion to the Paula Abdul seat on American Idol, there’s a distinct irony in having the first sounds on Jennifer Lopez's Love? all twisted through a vocoder: she may be judging the pop purity of legions of hopeful singers, but even she can’t resist the siren call of the computer. Of course, Lopez was never, ever about singing; she was about style, particularly the kind that passes for fashionable at glitzy high-rise discos. She was lucky enough to launch her career at the turn of the millennium, when it was still possible to have big dance crossover hits, but as her career marched on, the beats took prominence over the melody, a particular problem considering how slight Lopez’s voice is.
Lopez possesses both a lightness of touch and the confidence of a natural diva. Alex Macpherson 2011 More than many, more-fêted stars, Jennifer Lopez seems emblematic of 00s pop: slick, blinged-up, powerful and ambitious enough to overcome such peasantish problems as a lack of innate aptitude for the form. And, for a while, her attitude worked to superb effect: she's the quintessential "more great songs than you initially assume" artist, with Love Don't Cost a Thing, Whatever You Wanna Do, If You Had My Love and – best of all – the Murder remixes of Ain't It Funny and I'm Real all high-water marks.