Over at the Hairpin, Jane Hu wrote a really great analysis of JoJo, the pop star, and her first major hit, "Too Little Too Late." In it, she writes:
And herein lies a basic principle of the pop song: JoJo’s performance on “Too Little Too Late” is irreducible to any evidence of authenticity. She did not have to write the song, nor live its lyrics at the time of recording, for it to cut across as real. It’s real because it sounds real. We’re all bound to meet an asshole or two between 15 and 25. That’s the antidote of the enduring pop kiss-off, though its insights probably also do often come a little too late.
It's a brilliant explanation of not only why JoJo's biggest hit song works and became such a mammoth hit, but how great pop songs permeate our lives. Like all art, music is something that we accept into our lives at a very specific time and that we create our own meaning on top of despite the intentions of the artist.
We love a song because it reminds us of that time we danced with a girl we liked, or how it played on the radio that summer we were tan and carefree. We hate a song because it takes us back to a terrible moment. A great song doesn't require the artist to have shared the experience. Ultimately, it doesn't matter whether 15 year old JoJo understood what her song really meant.
What matters is that we felt it. And Hu does a great job laying that reality out in terms of JoJo's career and her most recent EP III featuring the song "Say Love."
Kelsey McKinney is a culture staff writer for Fusion.