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'Dance Moms' Star JoJo Siwa Takes on Bullying in 'Boomerang': Exclusive First Listen
As a full time cast member on Lifetime’s Dance Moms, 12-year old JoJo Siwa has seen her share of negativity on social media -- and she's had enough.
"I never really had experienced hate in school with girls and boys. What I do experience is social media and so every day people comment, 'You're fat, you're ugly, you're rude, you're all this stuff, and I just don’t like it at all," she told Billboard. "I don’t want anyone to have to go through that."
Siwa chose to address the issue with the release of a new song, "Boomerang." It gets its official release Friday on iTunes, but Billboard has an exclusive first listen premiere today (May 5).
"'Boomerang' is all about coming back from the hate and not listening to the hate," she said. "It really tells a message."
The track is an upbeat, inspiring song that shows off the preteen’s rapping and singing skills set to a fun and sparkling dance beat. On it, she sings, "I don’t really care about what they say / Ima come back like a Boomerang."
Listen to the song here:
Siwa began work on the song last winter with songwriters Jordan Richman, Griffith Frank and Heather Miley. The song -- produced by Richman and co-produced by Miley -- came together quickly in the studio, Richman told Billboard.
"She knows exactly who she is and exactly what she wants to say. Almost every time she opens her mouth, she says something really insightful," he said. "We were all so impressed with her maturity and attitude and how much she brought to the table when we were creating the song with her."
While her previous single, "I Can Make You Dance," was a call to the dance floor, her latest effort takes on the serious subject of online bullying. The result is an inspirational message that Richman said shows how to overcome bullying, be inclusive and find a solution.
"It really spoke to the heart of what we believe and what JoJo believes. When JoJo came into the studio, that was one of the main topic points and one of her main experiences she's had," Richman said. "Since she's only 12, we kind of found it's best to write from your own experiences and to her that's what she wanted to say. And that's what we helped her to say in the studio."
Siwa said working with all three songwriters helped to bring her ideas to life.
"They are the best team ever," she said. "It was so fun working with them because they really got me and they got where I was coming from and they were really helpful."
Frank said he was impressed with the pre-teen's focus in the studio.
"She was right there along with us absolutely keeping up. She really knew everything she wanted to say and how she wanted to say it in a way that would connect to her audience," he added. "It was really a fantastic show of someone who has a strong foothold in what they want to say. And JoJo isn't a normal 12-year-old when it comes down to it. She's right there with you every moment and almost has a better handle than most co-writers that we write with who are our age. She's pretty much 12-going-on-30."
That work ethic came early in life. Born in Nebraska, Siwa first started dancing in her mom, Jessalynn’s, dance studio. While most kids wait until they are eight to get their first dance solo, Siwa hit the stage early at the tender age of two with an adorable routine to "Mama, I'm a Big Girl Now" from the musical Hairspray. She debuted on Lifetime as the youngest competitor on Abby's Ultimate Dance Competition in its second season and joined Dance Moms in 2014.
"I really have been dancing my whole life," she said.
"I like her songs and her music and I like how she is an individual," Siwa said.
It is Siwa's own sense of self that Richman says will serve her well. "She has a really good head on her shoulders," he said.
Now living with her mom in Los Angeles, Siwa's day is scheduled starting with school from 8 a.m. through to 11 p.m. After an hour lunch break, she films the show until 4, before dancing at the studio until 10:30 p.m. Sometimes her schedule is so crazy she has to pass on opportunities. For instance: She was invited to make an appearance at the Radio Disney Awards, but had to decline because her presence was required in an upcoming episode.
"It’s a lot, but the show helps because it schedules us," she said. "It's a long day, but hard work pays off."
Siwa isn’t the first cast member of Dance Moms to release music. Last year, Nia Frazier released the singles, Star in Your Own Life" and "Slay" (as Nia Sioux) while Kendall Vertes (as Kendall K) debuted the song, "Wear 'Em Out." In 2014, Mackenzie Ziegler released her own album, Mack Z. And, of course, Maddie Ziegler has been prominently featured as a dancer in Sia’s videos.
While Siwa has the blessing of Abby Lee Miller, owner and teacher of the Abby Lee Dance Company and star of Dance Moms, the choreographer is not managing or involved in the singing aspect of her career.
"Of course she is happy for me that I am doing all of this," she said.
The next month is going to be busy for the young entertainer. In addition to her music career, she is venturing into the world of fashion with her own accessory line of her signature bows debuting in Claire's stores.
Fans of Dance Moms will also get a treat after the finale: the video for "Boomerang" (featuring her mom, as well as Vertes and her mom, Jill) will debut on its Girl Talk show May 17. In addition, the song will have its radio premiere this Monday (May 9) on Radio Disney.