Joanna “JoJo” Levesque is still riding high on her “Agáp?” mixtape, which presented a more mature version of the R&B/pop artist upon its release last December. The 22-year-old has moved on from her successful teenage singles “Leave (Get Out)” and “Too Little, Too Late” to embrace a radiantly sultry persona and jazz-influenced soul music, all while trying to release her endlessly delayed third album.
“I can understand why some people might be taken aback or say ‘Oh gosh, what happened to sweet little JoJo?'” the singer told Billboard when she stopped by our offices last February. “She’s still there, but she’s 22 and she has her moments, dammit!”
One listen to “Agáp?” makes it clear that JoJo’s influences range far and wide — fittingly, the singer’s five all-time favorite pop albums, which she rattled off without hesitation during her last visit, cast a wide net of R&B, electronica and sunny radio records. Check out JoJo’s five essential pop albums, presented without commentary as the latest edition of Pop Shop’s “Gimme Five” series:
1. Janet Jackson, “Control”
Janet’s innovative 1986 album features unapologetic R&B jams like “Nasty,” “What Have You Done For Me Lonely” and the title track.
2. Spice Girls, “Spice World”
JoJo says that the Spice Girls’ second studio album is the pick here, simply because “Spice Up Your Life” is an unstoppable lead single.
3. Rihanna, “Good Girl Gone Bad”
Before “Agáp?” flipped JoJo’s pop aesthetic on its head, Rihanna was going bad with this stunning collection of hits, including “Umbrella,” “Don’t Stop The Music” and “Shut Up and Drive.
4. Justin Timberlake, “FutureSex/LoveSounds”
“I can’t wait to see him on tour,” says JoJo of JT, who reached a new critical plateau when he released his sophomore album in 2006.
5. Michael Jackson, “Dangerous”
MJ’s 1991 opus is the pick for JoJo over “Thriller,” “Bad” and “Off The Wall.” “Oh my God, I love that album,” she says of “Dangerous,” which included “Black or White,” “Remember The Time” and the “Free Willy” anthem “WIll You Be There.”