Joe Jonas never seemed like a poseur, so why are his handlers modeling his inevitable solo stardom off of the King of 21st Century Poseurdom, Justin Timberlake?
But will Joe Jonas be believable as a real rock star? Can the fans ever forget that they loved him in fourth grade?
“I look at Joe’s scenario as kind of like when Justin Timberlake broke out of ‘N Sync,” says Rob Knox, a producer working on Joe’s solo project who previously teamed up with Rihanna and Jamie Foxx. “Justin was 21 when he came out as a solo artist. Joe is coming to producers who know how to create that edgier pop feeling. We’re not doing any boy-band songs.”
What they are doing, Joe says, is an eclectic mixture of “electro indie pop rock.” “It’s Joe’s album, it’s not just something put together for him,” says Danja, another veteran producer on the project, whose past work includes Timberlake’s FutureSex/LoveSounds. “He’s collaborating with the writing. He’s very different from what you’d expect. All I can say is he’s an adult man. He has a rock-star edge about him.”
The entire Details piece reads exactly the way all the articles about Justin Timberlake before he released Justified read – Joe really likes girls! Joe drinks! Joe is kinda sorta embarrassed by the Jonas Brothers! Joe is a rock star trapped in teen idol purgatory!
Blah blah blah snooze.
And naturally – as you can see above – this Real Joe Jonas can be found by hiring the hottest black producers with whom to “collaborate.” And this Real Joe Jonas will sound exactly like whoever it is he thinks he needs to sound like to be relevant and “cool” and we will all be told that Real Joe Jonas is sooo much cooler than Jonas Brothers Joe Jonas. And, worse, we’ll be told he’s now a Real Artist.
Look, Joe Jonas’ career is preordained. I’m not saying that I don’t know that or that I don’t think that he’s not talented enough to be the Next Big Thing.
What I object to is the way white artists must always get credibility and “cool” by shamelessly appropriating black music. Of course, I know in this post-racial age, no one cares about this. All cultures are fair game. We are all supposed to act like it isn’t the offensive act that it is because it’ll likely be enjoyable and well-made.
When Justin did it, it was so transparent and desperate – “I grew up in Memphis, soul is in my blood” – and the music was so unabashedly, disgustingly derivative that I thought it’d fail. So I guess I should be happy that the Details piece is much more subtle, probably because Joe Jonas is nowhere near as self-aware as Justin Timberlake (for better or worse).
But given the fact that everyone he identifies as idols in the article, from Bono to the Black Keys to Paul McCartney, is a rock legend, his “I wanna go play my music in a club” line is clearly publicist-approved. And this Danja-produced album is clearly more the brainchild of the label than Joe Jonas.
Justin was a talented kid who didn’t bother to build on the promise of “Gone” by writing and producing his album himself – succeeding or failing on his own terms. He took Michael Jackson’s castoffs, threw on a fidora and a single glove, and told everyone that he invented something new*.
By all accounts, Joe is a talented kid too, but too bad that (like Justin) we likely won’t get to hear what a Joe Jonas album will sound like.
*Read the liner notes of Justified. He really thought he invented something original. The man is positively delusional. The album was Kelis’ Kaleidoscope and Ginuwine’s 100% Ginuwine with dashes of Mike’s Off The Wall, with a very good Stevie Wonder on “Nothing Else” (the one genuinely good, but still deeply derivative, song on the album).