Jennifer Lopez has got to be the most forgotten-about pop star in recent history. When I heard she was playing a massive arena just outside of Sydney last night, it took me a couple of moments to register who ‘J.Lo’ was. Born in The Bronx, there was certainly a time when ‘Jenny from the block’ outstripped her roots. When she had twins with her third husband Marc Anthony (whose regal-sounding name gives off more of a sense of superiority than being the top selling tropical salsa artist of all time might) in 2008, People magazine bought the first photos for $6 million, the most expensive celebrity pics ever at the time. And there was Bennifer and there was Gigli and marrying the back-up dancer and that Grammys dress and those lasers and recently, it has come to our attention, she teamed up with top-selling Cuban national embarrassment Pitbull to relaunch her career that seamlessly picked up where it had left off all those years ago when she was cavorting around with Diddy and Ja Rule.
But even with such a proud history of producing celebrity mag fodder, Jennifer Lopez doesn’t really stick out in your mind as an era-defining artist. And yet, in a lot of ways, with Britney now resigned to releasing sub-standard material, playing second fiddle to an ego-inflated Will.i.am, Christina surprisingly bloated and hanging on The Voice and Brandy, Christina Milian and Ashanti mere footnotes to the late 90s and early 2000s, it is Jenny, quite possibly the least talented of all the millenium stars and certainly the oldest by now (43), who fades in and out of the zeitgeist like her casually weak vocals and still, somehow, remains commercial and relevant. Reviewing J.Lo’s back catalogue today, particularly this year’s retrospective ‘Dance Again…The Hits’, the reason for the latina sensation’s sticking power became immediately apparent. While her lyricism is often trite and repetitive and her vocal performances more variable still, Jennifer Lopez has some sort of team behind her that know how to pick songs.
All of the above probably puts too harsh a spin on my feelings for J.Lo. As a Puerto-Rican-styled package, there is no question why she has succeeded to the extent she has in the entertainment business. And with ‘Get Right’, from her fourth studio album, 2006’s ‘Rebirth’, all squabbling over her capacity as a performer, her position as an entertainment history marker, her fashion choices, Pitbull choices and otherwise is condemned with one of the hottest James Brown (by way of Maceo & The Macks) saxophone samples of all time. In truth, it is Rich Harrison, not Lopez, who makes this song. Producer Harrison, astoundingly also the brains behind Beyonce’s ‘Crazy In Love‘, patently knows what to do with a short horn burst. The combination of that loop, some particularly heavy-hitting bass for a pop-song and the little girl vocals rounding out the piece make it for me as an instrumental. That J.Lo arrives on the scene to offer some real humble head voice on the chorus and unconvincingly attempt to borrow the empowered female persona that Beyonce channels so effortlessly is really a post-script to what is a brilliant beat. She is merely an intermediary, a messenger sent by Harris. ‘Get Right’ makes for compulsive listening. It is genuinely funky in a way that much pop music is not. We’re only lucky we had a local Bronx stalwart, a genuine stayer at the helm to bring it to us.
Jennifer Lopez – Get Right