The School Newspaper of Winston Churchill High School.

The Observer

The School Newspaper of Winston Churchill High School.

The Observer

The School Newspaper of Winston Churchill High School.

The Observer

Is it time to say “No, no” to JoJo? Nope.

Photo courtesy of @ItsJoJoSiwa on Instagram
On April 5, 2024, JoJo Siwa released the song Karma, which is her first song that shows her in a more adult light. The song has become viral and highly controversial since it represents a major shift in her audience.

The ponytail, once accessorized with a large, colorful bow, has now transformed into a mohawk with glittery black spikes edged around it. JoJo Siwa has always emphasized how she would “come back like a boomerang,” but the boomerang has gone too far with her latest single, “Karma,” sparking massive controversy and questioning her ability to ignore the hate and proceed like nothing happened. 

Many WCHS students may recall Siwa first gaining fame as a contestant on “Abby’s Ultimate Dance Competition,” where she was known for her bold and fierce personality, exemplified by her vibrant neon outfits and certainly her signature side ponytail topped with an over-the-top bow. She then continued her dance journey by joining Abby Lee’s Dance Company on the popular reality TV show “Dance Moms,” and has been in the public eye ever since. She even signed with Nickelodeon to pursue acting and create a million-dollar brand of merchandise tailored to kids. Moreover, she continued to build her platform by releasing pop music demonstrating key themes of ignoring haters, dreaming big and prioritizing happiness for her young fan base. Therefore, it is important to acknowledge that her success is mainly derived from her target demographic of kindergarteners and elementary school kids. 

Before she released the music video for “Karma,” she heavily promoted it on social media, releasing a snippet of the chorus along with its dance choreography. This worked in a roundabout way because although her dance became viral and trending, it was not because it was well choreographed — it was because the internet viewed it as a cringe and “goofy” dance. However, when the music video was released, it left everyone stunned. She had a Kiss-inspired makeup look, wore a revealing outfit and danced flirtatiously. From that point, it became clear that she intended to officially mark the end of her child-like public figure and morph into creating more “mature” content targeted to an adult audience. This type of transition is not new but instead expected from typical young Disney and Nickelodeon stars such as Zendaya ( “K.C. Undercover” to “Euphoria”) and Rowan Blanchard (“Girl Meets World” to “Snowpiercer”). Nevertheless, how she executed hers was more of a poor publicity stunt rather than a genuine intention. 

Firstly, “Karma” was written by the Rock Mafia Production team consisting of Tim James and Antonina Armato and pitched, which Siwa bought the rights to. Overall, it was poorly written, and its connection to Siwa does not make sense. The song starts with the line: “I was a bad girl, I did some bad things,” which already sets the scene for her immaturity rather than maturity, with it being a typical cliche phrase a Disney or Nickelodeon character would say at their turning point. Armato has written many popular Disney songs, including Hannah Montana, High School Musical and Descendants, which may explain why “Karma” has that same shallow level of writing besides some explicit language utilized. Even though Siwa did not write “Karma,” she could have changed some of the lyrics to make them more fitting to her situation because the statements sound childish and completely false. If anything, she was a good girl maintaining a playful, innocent child-like persona through her teen years, being a Kidzbop-type performer dressed in oversized versions of her brand’s children’s clothes. 

Story continues below advertisement

As the song proceeds, listeners may wait for a moment where she is being honest and “real” with how she feels, but there is not a single moment of sincerity as the childish Disney writing style remains with her saying lines such as: “I was a wild child, you always knew it,” which is again false and no different than the opening line. 

Moreover, during her press interviews, she has not been mindful of what she is saying. Recently, she faced major backlash for claiming she “invented” a new genre known as “gay pop”. Although she eventually clarified to TMZ that she wanted to be like the Chief Marketing Officer in that industry and not the CEO, the more extensive question was why she even had that thought in mind when, in reality, “Karma” was not her original work. Thousands of gay pop artists like Elton John and Lady Gaga have worked hard to express themselves through their original music, so what Siwa said about wanting to be big and draw more attention to this industry is somewhat of a selfish claim and disrespectful to other gay pop artists who have consistently been active in this industry and paved the way for her. 

This is only one out of the many instances where her statements have been questionable, so the criticism she is receiving is valid. Nonetheless, ultimately, she is still a human who makes mistakes and is continuing to learn, so her clarification to TMZ is a good step forward in showing her more mature side, which is critical for her future, as part of this transition should include a behavior shift. 

Furthermore, the main reason why she has been under so much scrutiny lately is because of how sudden her adult shift was. Siwa mentioned how Miley Cyrus’ rebranding inspired her, leading many to compare the two. Similarly to Siwa, Cyrus became famous at a very young age by being an actress on Disney Channel and then subsequently embarking on her music career. Regardless, Cyrus’ fans were never as young as Siwa’s, so when she released her transition song “Can’t Be Tamed,” it was controversial but not to the extent of Siwa’s. Since Siwa has always been a child entertainer, her situation is indifferent to Cyrus’s because her fanbase is still exceptionally young. Thus, she is in a complicated position determining her target audience since she essentially abandoned her young fan base. Older young adults may also be hesitant to support her because of her long history of appealing to such a young audience. 

“Karma” is only the start of Siwa’s rebranding journey, and it has undoubtedly thus far put Siwa in a more negative light. Despite all the dissenting opinions, however, she is in her early stages of adulthood, so the day she finally figures out who she is meant to be, she will come back like a boomerang. 

Leave a Comment
More to Discover
About the Contributor
Catherine Chan
Catherine Chan, Assistant Online Editor
Catherine Chan is currently a junior at WCHS and the Assistant Online Editor for the 2023-2024 school year. She is excited to work with new people this year and continue her passion for writing. Outside of school, she is a competitive swimmer and lyrical dancer.

Comments (0)

All The Observer Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *