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Culture > Entertainment

A Critique of JoJo Siwa’s New Song in Comparison to Queer Pop

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Conn Coll chapter.

I am beginning to write this without watching the full video of JoJo Siwa’s new song “Karma.” Like many of you, I have only heard or seen clips of JoJo Siwa’s new song. Before I watch the video, I want to address my qualifications to discuss this topic. I am queer, and I actively listen to many queer musical artists, including, but not limited, to boygenius and their respective personal work, Chappell Roan, Reneé Rapp, The Aces, MUNA, The Last Dinner Party, Conan Gray, Troy Sivan, Caroline Polachek, Towa Bird, etc. Unlike many of you, I never watched Dance Moms, and I am too old to have had a JoJo Siwa Phase when I was younger. However, my lack of familiarity with JoJo’s older work allows me to have an unbiased perspective on her new work. So, let’s watch it. 

The first scene opens up on a small island at night. It would seem idyllic if it was fully shot in the middle of the day. We quickly see slides where JoJo seems to be happy with two different women of the same age, surrounded by a dancing group of women. As JoJo starts singing, we can see that she is cheating or something similar with these two women. It is then revealed that the group is on a yacht to party and dance, and the scene where the infidelity takes place. 

After JoJo gets caught cheating on the yacht, she just jumps off the boat and arrives at the island we first see in the music video. Then, she is joined by more dancers and one of her partners from the yacht. They have new black and red outfits that contrast to their white outfits from the boat. Soon, the backup dancers leave and JoJo and her partner have a very sexual and somewhat odd dance. The scene of her jumping off the yacht is reversed and JoJo returns to the boat in her original white outfit. However, the scenes on the island appear in between the yacht scenes. JoJo’s infidelity seemingly continues. So, what is the karma she speaks of? 

The lyrics make it seem like she regrets her choices. In the bridge, she sings, ” This lonely room feels so empty, just me and my regrets.” However, the music video contradicts this because even on the island she is with others, including one of her partners. The lyrics would insinuate that she regrets her decision to cheat, but she still appears with both women at the end. 

In an interview with Billboard, JoJo revealed that she wanted to create a new genre called “Gay Pop” with her new music. But is this music video and song truly representative of the queer experience? Firstly, this song is about karma for cheating on two women. Is cheating truly representative of the queer experience? No, it’s not. Of course, there are polyamorous relationships that identify within the queer spectrum, but that is not classified as “cheating.” We will have to wait to see how other JoJo’s songs are and how they generalize the queer experience, but so far it does not seem like the best example of Gay Pop.

The day JoJo Siwa’s music video release was the same day as Chappell Roan’s new song, “Good Luck, Babe!”. This song is about a relationship between Chappell and another woman who is ‘in the closet,’ or not honest with themselves or others about their sexuality. She could also be classified as a CompHet, or having compulsory heterosexuality. This song is a better example of the queer experience because it addresses the problems that queer women still face in our modern age. JoJo’s problem was something she caused through her own infidelity and ultimately did not face actual karma (she was just sad). In “Good Luck, Babe!”, the woman who rejected a part of her sexuality could face harsher karma. Compulsory heterosexuality compels queer people to fit into the societal norm of hetero relationships and reject how they actually feel. The consequence for ‘babe’ is the possibility of losing her identity in a heterosexual relationship, “When you wake up next to him in the middle of the night / With your head in your hands, you’re nothing more than his wife.” Chappell imagines this scene. Still, it is a real experience that many queer people have, either losing a partner to CompHet or being CompHet. 

JoJo Siwa’s “Karma” is not the best representation of the queer experience and she did not create the genre of “Gay Pop.” Gay or Queer Pop has existed long before she was born. Even her song, “Karma,” is not the greatest Gay Pop song out there. I could examine the quality of the audio production, however, that is not something I would consider myself qualified for.  Compared to an active artist, Chappell Roan, JoJo needs to up her game. Her attempts to relate to the queer experience feel inauthentic to me because of the lack of consequences or karma. 

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Miranda Dowie

Conn Coll '24

Art and Art History Double Major and in the Museum Certificate Program