JoJo is JoJo's self-titled debut studio album that was released on June 22, 2004 by Da Family, Blackground Records & Universal Records.
- Breezy 3:15
- Baby It's You 3:11
- Not That Kinda Girl 3:27
- The Happy Song 3:59
- Homeboy 3:35
- City Lights 4:54
- Leave (Get Out) 4:02
- Use My Shoulder 3:43
- Never Say Goodbye 3:51
- Weak 4:50
- Keep On Keepin' On 3:15
- Sunshine 3:07
- Yes Or No 3:14
- Fairy Tales 3:45
As a child, JoJo listened as her mother, Diana practiced hymns. She began singing when she was two years and three months old by imitating to R&B, jazz, and soul tunes.
On the A&E network show "Child Stars III: Teen Rockers", Diana claimed that JoJo had a borderline genius IQ.
As a child, JoJo enjoyed attending Native American festivals and acted locally in professional theaters. When she was 7 years old, she appeared on the television show "Kids Say the Darnedest Things: On the Road in Boston" with American comedian and actor Bill Cosby and she sang a song from singer Cher.
After auditioning in the television show "Destination Stardom", JoJo sang Aretha Franklin's songs "Respect" and "Chain of Fools."
Soon after, The Oprah Winfrey Show contacted JoJo, inviting her to perform. She performed on Maury, on one of the frequent "kids-with-talent" episodes, as well as many others. Reminiscing, she has stated that "when it came to performing, I just had no fear".
At the age of six, JoJo was offered a record deal, but her mother turned it down because she believed that her daughter was too young for a music career.
After appearing on talk shows and the McDonald's Gospel Fest performing Whitney Houston's "I Believe in You and Me", JoJo competed on the television show America's Most Talented Kids, but did not win the show, losing to Diana DeGarmo.
Record producer Vincent Herbert contacted JoJo and asked her to audition for Blackground Records. During her audition for Barry Hankerson, Hankerson told JoJo that the spirit of his niece, the late singer Aaliyah, had brought her to him. She was signed to the label, and had recording sessions with famed producers like The Underdogs and Soulshock and Karlin.
JoJo's live demo "Joanna Levesque" was recorded in 2001. The demo featured covers of soul and R&B songs, including Wilson Pickett's "Mustang Sally" (1966), Etta James' "It Ain't Always What You Do (It's Who You Let See You Do It)" (1989), Aretha Franklin's "Chain of Fools" (1968) and "The House That Jack Built" (1969), The Moonglows' "See Saw" (1956), Stevie Wonder's "Superstition" (1972), and The Temptations' "Shakey Ground" (1975).
In 2003, at the age of 12, JoJo signed with Blackground Records and Da Family and begin working with some producers on her debut album.
The music found on "JoJo" is primarily pop and R&B.
During an interview about the album's composition, JoJo stated: "I wrote three songs on the album. I am not the [kind of] person who sings something that I have no reference point to. I feel like I am a real artist and I want to be able to feel what I am singing about. So when I sing, "Leave (Get Out)," I have been through that. I think it is just a new generation, whether people are ready for it or not. Teenagers are dating. They go through things and that is really what it is about."
Many have noted that JoJo's album is influenced mainly by R&B tracks.
On her influences for the album, JoJo has listed many celebrities. During one interview, she stated, "I really was, I had no idea what it was. I was raised in a mostly white neighborhood. I was this little white girl jamming out to Ella Fitzgerald and Bobby Brown. I don't know what kind of stuff I was on!"
During a separate interview, she stated, "Well, I listened to everyone from Aretha Franklin to Bob Seager, to the Beatles, but I have to say that my mom is probably my biggest influence. She really has a great voice."
JoJo has also listed singer Beyoncé as a major influence, stating: "I think she is the perfect example of a strong woman and just a talented person. She's a songwriter, she's a dancer and she's an incredible singer and I don't think anyone can touch her right now."
The first track on the album, "Breezy" is an up-tempo hip hop track that speaks of JoJo's relationship with a boy, and how he calls her "Breezy". The lyrics are more spoken than sung by JoJo, as the song has a different feel than the rest of the album.
"Baby It's You" is the second track on the album, as well as the second single. The song is an up-tempo R&B song that speaks of JoJo not wanting the luxuries and perks of dating someone, and all she wants is them.
"Not That Kinda Girl", the album's third single, also serves as the third song. The song sees JoJo comparing herself to other girls, and telling a boy that she's "not that kinda girl", and has true feelings for him.
"The Happy Song" is the fourth song on the album. The up-tempo R&B influenced track sees JoJo speaking of how happy a boy makes her feel, and she thinks he might be the one.
"Homeboy" is the fifth song on the album, and is more of a hip hop influenced track. The track speaks of how JoJo's feelings have changed for a boy she grew up with.
The sixth song on the album is the urban "City Lights". It was inspired lyrically by JoJo's love of Beat Generation culture and named after San Francisco Beat landmark City Lights Bookstore.
Lines such as "I feel like I'm on medication" and "I can see the stars/expensive cars on the boulevard" were inspired by the Jack Kerouac novel, "On the Road."
"Leave (Get Out)" is the seventh track on the album, as well as the lead single. The single was met positively by critics, and was majorly successful on music charts worldwide, reaching the top 10 in eleven different countries, including the United States, Australia and the United Kingdom.
The eighth song on the album is "Use My Shoulder", an R&B ballad that lyrically speaks of JoJo trying to cheer up her boyfriend.
"Never Say Goodbye" is a pop ballad, that lyrically speaks of JoJo being glad to have someone in her life, and how she "never wants to say goodbye" to him.
"Weak" is the 10th track on the album, and is a cover of the 1992 song by R&B group SWV.
"Keep On Keepin' On" is the 11th song on the album, and is a mid-tempo R&B song that talks of never giving up when you are in dire straits. It is autobiographical and deals with the time JoJo and her mom were living humbly in a small apartment, being jealous of her rich friends, and asking God why.
The 12th track on the album is the Christian pop song "Sunshine" that speaks of how someone is like an angel to her and makes all her dreams come true.
"Yes or No", the 13th song on the album, is more uptempo and hip hop than the rest of the album, and lyrically talks of JoJo questioning a guy to see if he is ready to handle a girl like her.
The final track on the album is "Fairy Tales", a pop ballad that lyrically speaks of how JoJo feels she may not be able to love again after the pain her ex has caused her. The second verse interpolates the nursery rhyme "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star".
"JoJo" debuted at #4 on the Billboard 200, selling 95,000 copies in its first week. It was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) on November 15, 2004 for sales exceeding one million copies.
The album reached #23 on the Canadian Albums Chart and was certified gold by the Canadian Recording Industry Association (CRIA) for shipments in excess of 100,000 copies.
In the United Kingdom, the album debuted and peaked at #23 on the UK Albums Chart. It was certified gold by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) on November 5, 2004, denoting shipments in excess of 100,000 copies.
The debuted and peaked at #52 in Germany and received a gold certification by the Bundesverband Musikindustrie (BVMI).
Despite the success of "Leave (Get Out)" in Australia, the album only managed to chart as high as #86 on the ARIA Albums Chart.
Elsewhere, the album reached the top 30 in Japan, Portugal, and Switzerland, the top 40 in New Zealand, the top 50 in Italy, and the top 70 in France and Ireland.
As of August 2015, "JoJo" had sold over three million copies worldwide.
"JoJo" hasreceived generally mixed reviews from music critics.
Entertainment Weekly praised the album, stating: "Apparently, the army of urban producers (Soulshock & Karlin, the Underdogs, Mike City) on JoJo's JoJo know how to build a disc brimming with sizzling hooks too. The prototype this time? Xtina, with her over-the-top melismatic delivery. Too bad, since many of these otherwise engagingly gritty R&B tracks, especially the euphoric 'Happy Song,' out-sass recent material by grown-up divas like Monica, Tamia, and even Mary J. Blige. Though the 13-year-old's vocal calisthenics quickly grow tiresome, with a few more years under her belt JoJo may yet discover her inner soul singer." Slant Magazine gave the album a mixed review, stating: "But while the girl's certainly got pipes, her eponymous debut is as contrived and calculated as the strategic tears in the t-shirt and cap she sports on the album's cover. Even the songs JoJo penned herself can't give the disc the personality it so desperately needs; 'Keep On Keepin' On' is a 'personal,' inspirational tune, but it's high-end sneakers and a duplex that JoJo wants, a sad reminder of how success is measured by today's young people—as dictated by hip-hop trends and MTV's Cribs. Then again, it's not surprising coming from a girl who got her start on Bill Cosby's Kids Say the Darndest Things. It's not the catchy lead single 'Leave (Get Out),' produced by Soulshock and Karlin, or even a cover of SWV's early-90s hit 'Weak' that keeps JoJo afloat, but—despite lyrics like "I'm on a high/Feel like I'm on medication"—the old-school "City Lights" and the minimalist "The Happy Song," which let JoJo's vocals take center stage. As long as she surrounds herself with smarter people (and stops rhyming words like "breezy" with "heezy," as she does on the album's opening track), the young up-and-comer could very well be the next Teena Marie. But probably not."
Yahoo! Music also gave the album a mixed review when they reviewed it, commenting:
"JoJo is mercilessly multi-tracked a la J.Lo, her voice encoded flatteringly as she too-many-notes her way through a succession of R'n'B beats and hooks that owe everything to studio wizardry and little to simple songwriting. Inevitably, she's 'Not That Kinda Girl' and boys 'make me happy' but friends are where it's at. In short, she only has as much to say as the Spice Girls' 'Wannabe', but does so across 14 largely forgettable tracks of scales and curlicues that make Mariah sound restrained. Discovered, like Charlotte Church, via a series of serendipitous TV appearances, JoJo's talent is less apparent. She's evidently superior to your typical schoolgirl belting out ringtones on the bus - and in Number Two hit 'Leave (Get Out)' she has a signature song solid enough to base a career on - but beyond that she has no identity to speak of. Her album wouldn't disgrace the memory of deceased label mate Aaliyah but that's to the credit of Blackground Records rather than JoJo herself. Too young to have experienced life, too polished to have any soul to her sound, thus far she's a prodigy without purpose. Let the mood swings commence!"
JoJo promoted the album mainly through live performances. During 2004 and 2005, she performed at many televised appearances as well as extensive touring with other artists.
She performed the lead single, "Leave (Get Out)" at the 2004 Kids Choice Awards to positive reviews from the audience and critics.
She also performed several songs from the album, including the songs: "Leave", "Baby It's You" and "This Time" on Sessions@AOL; a digital EP was released to promote the performances.
She also performed the album's lead single during an episode of On Air with Ryan Seacrest. The performance featured JoJo performing with several back up dancers.
She also appeared on Top of the Pops to perform the single, using the same dance routine with her back up dancers.
JoJo also performed "Leave" at the Arthur Ashe Kids Day concert, to a generally positive reception from the crowd and critics.
She also performed the single live for Yahoo! Music, which was posted on their official website. The single was performed yet again on the French television show Hit Machine, where JoJo performed with back up dancers dressed similar to high school students.
Before the album's release, JoJo embarked on her first ever tour, the Cingular Buddy Bash with pop rock singer Fefe Dobson, hip hop duo Young Gunz and alternative metal band Zebrahead. Like debut tours by Tiffany and Britney Spears before her, it stopped at nine malls, beginning at Atlanta's Northlake Mall and ending at South Shore Plaza.
That year, she was requested by First Lady Laura Bush to perform at the 2004 Christmas in Washington special, broadcast by TNT and hosted by Dr. Phil and his wife Robin McGraw.
In 2005, JoJo and an all-star lineup participated in the charity single "Come Together Now", to benefit victims of two recent disasters; the 2004 Asian tsunami and Hurricane Katrina a year later.
Also during that same year, she hosted and performed at the Hope Rocks concert benefiting City of Hope National Medical Center and co-hosted the 2006 TV Guide Channel's countdown to the Grammy Awards.