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Jojo, Stanaj bring their Mad Love Tour to Dallas

Keaton Bell / Red Dirt Report
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I have no shame in admitting that when I heard Jojo would be perfuming in Dallas on her most recent tour, I about lost my damn mind. As a child, it was hard not to fall in love with the sultry-voiced pop star. Now 24 years old (how time flies..), Jojo burst onto the scene in 2004 with her self-titled debut album. Songs like “Baby, It’s You” and “Leave (Get Out)” were basically anthems for my entire generation, and to this day they still bring about memories of middle school dances and getting over your first crush. 

Her second album was just as pristine, featuring what just might be the best break-up anthem of all time: “Too Little, Too Little.” You’d be lying if you said you never screamed out the lyrics to this song in your car while driving in the rain. But even if Jojo’s career often gets boiled down to these handful of hits, there was always something about her music that managed to differentiate her from her peers. Jojo wasn’t pushing for a sexual image, masquerading as the quiet good girl, or putting on any kind of facade. She was just a small-town girl who made it big and wrote music from the heart, bottling up her emotions into perfect little slices of pop music gold. 

But then, she simply seemed to vanish. The wide-eyed girl that captured our hearts with her music and roles in films like “Aquamarine” seemed to completely drop off the radar. This is through no fault of her own, seeing as Jojo struggled with her label for years trying to release her third album. And after a couple mix-tapes, EP’s, and singles, Jojo is officially back and ready to reclaim her place as one of pop music’s freshest voices. 

On the Dallas stop of her Mad Love Tour Tuesday night, the singer wowed an incredibly diverse crowd at the intimate setting of Trees in the Deep Ellum district. Even if the sold-out crowd were all initially there for Jojo, they all left a die-hard fan of her opening act Stanaj as well. The New York-based singer-songwriter did a great job pumping out the crowd, with a sound combining the soulful tenor of Justin Timberlake with the pop charm of Ed Sheeran. He even performed the latter’s current smash hit “Shape of You,” much to the delight of every basic white girl in attendance. 

“How many of you had heard of me before tonight?,” Stanaj yelled out to the response of a handful of raised hands. “How many of you guys are gonna replay the shit out of this afterwards?,” with everyone collectively screaming back. His performances of “Sleep Alone” and “Romantic” started the night off on just the right note, and it shouldn't be much longer before you see Stanaj’s name at the top of the charts. 

With his opening set finished and the stage set up for the headliner, the applause was deafening when Jojo finally took the stage. Decked out in a chic black-and-white ensemble with a see-through sweatshirt, Jojo proved that her time away from the spotlight has done nothing to dilute her wonderful talent. 

Jojo came out guns blazing, fog filling the club and strobe lights flickering as she launched into “Clovers” and fan favorite “When Love Hurts.” The setlist didn’t have any particular structure to it, which only makes since since neither has Jojo’s career. It was sprinkled with songs from her three studio albums, mix-tapes, and even some surprising covers. 

While she certainly delivered with performances of her biggest hits (I may or may not’ve actually teared up during “Too Little, Too Late”), the biggest surprise came from her deeper cuts. Watching Jojo perform the sleek R&B track “Like That” was exuberantly fun and her sultry cover of Drake’s “Marvin’s Room” resulted in one of the night’s biggest sing-along moments. And listening to the seductively raunchy “Edibles” again made me wonder why the song wasn’t released as a single from her new album given how relentlessly catchy it is. 

Given her time out of the spotlight the past decade, Jojo’s been going hard when it comes to touring and press obligations. While she may’ve been fighting off a case of laryngitis, you never would’ve guessed it given how honest-to-god fantastic her vocals and energy were. The intimate setting of Trees definitely helped, but Jojo is an artist whose devotion to her craft and fans are as genuine as it gets. 

“If there’s one thing you take away from tonight, it’s to say love,” she shouted before launching into her achingly beautiful track of the same name, “Say Love.” Given the range of themes she touches on in her music, she could make us cry one minute with “I Am” before getting the entire venue jumping when she started grinding around the stage to “FAB.”

If anyone ever doubts Jojo’s validity as a legitimate artist, just point them in the direction of her next tour date. No pop star working today has a voice as soulful or music as tantalizing as Jojo, and her show Tuesday night was the ultimate showcase for a woman who’s gone through hell and come out ready to make her mark. Ending the night with her dancehall anthem “Good Thing,” Jojo basked in the applause of an adoring crowd and got teary-eyed as she talked about how thankful she was for all of us for sticking with her through the years. And given how strong her new material is, it looks like it’ll be no time before Jojo is the name on everybody’s lips again.

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About the Author

Keaton Bell

Born in Minnesota but raised in Oklahoma, Keaton is a senior at the University of Oklahoma...

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About Red Dirt Report

Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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