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The student news site of Dickinson College.

The Dickinsonian

The student news site of Dickinson College.

The Dickinsonian

Karma by JoJo Siwa is my bad Karma

On April 5, JoJo Siwa, popularly known as a star on the hit reality television show “Dance Moms,” released her single “Karma,” a song she believes to mark her “180 degree” switch from her world of pink, glitter, bows and unicorns, to her new, dark, adult persona.

There is a lot to say about this new era of Siwa, from its sound, marketing and writing, to if JoJo even made this “180” switch at all. What sparked controversy was Siwa’s comments allegedly saying she was the “first of her generation” to make such a switch, as well as saying she coined the genre “gay pop.” 

The song is definitely a new angle for Siwa, as there’s no doubt that “Karma” is completely different from her earlier hit singles such as “Boomerang,” “Kid in a Candy Store,” or “Every Girl’s a Supergirl.” 

However, Siwa’s new single fell flat and did not serve the purpose of pivoting Siwa into adulthood as she had claimed. If Siwa was going to sing the words “I was a bad girl,” she needed to back those lyrics up. Unfortunately, as far as everybody is concerned, she never was a bad girl, which was what this pivot in genre and brand was, on the surface, all about. Aside from this, the pivot further fell through when Siwa decided to safely substitute “f*cked around” for “ef’d around,” in her lyrics which was not in keeping with the new “bad girl” persona she was trying to accomplish. The “180” switch, unlike “anything anyone has seen,” according to Siwa, was certainly something nobody ever saw, because it never happened.

Apart from the song all-around not accomplishing what Siwa set out to do, the choreography, her music video and the song’s general marketing, led to Siwa receiving more hate than praise for her new release. Unfortunately, I cannot say that the hate was unwarranted, as Siwa made multiple comments completely disregarding the fact that her switch from being a child star to breaking out as a more adult musician is not in any sense new, and she is hardly the first to take this jump in her career. Selena Gomez, Demi Lovato and Miley Cyrus all went from being the “good girls’” of children’s television to making statements as they released music swearing, and depicting themselves as anything but “good girls.” The reason most people loved these pivots was because for one, those three artists can sing, and two, they never claimed to be “firsts” of their kind like Siwa did.

The other major controversy Siwa found herself in was that of her saying she went to her producers at Columbia Records and saying she wanted to create a new genre of music. Just hearing that doesn’t sound controversial. It’s understandable that she mght want to make a new sound and stand out. But the controversy came when Siwa said this “new” genre she was “making” was “gay pop.” I, like most people, wondered  how it was possible that Siwa thought she was the first person to make music of this genre. Queen, Prince, Elton John, Chappell Roan, Dove Cameron, Troye Sivan and the list literally goes on and on. These are all artists who, dating as far back as the 1970s, have made music generally considered to be within the genre of gay pop. So where Siwa got off saying she was creating this genre is beyond me and most other people.

Most recently, Siwa has been under fire for not being transparent with the origins of her new song. You may have seen a video going around TikTok recently of a singer named Britt Smith, who was popular in the early 2010s, singing a song that is identical to Siwa’s “Karma,” and that’s because they are in fact the same song. Actually, the song wasn’t Britt Smith’s either. The song was originally written for Miley Cyrus’ popular album “Can’t Be Tamed.” How can Siwa create a new genre of music with a song that she took no part in the writing process? I digress.

Whether or not Siwa has actually claimed to write the song or not is unclear, as she has never overtly said she wrote the song, and she has talked about producers pitching the song to her. However, she talks about the song as if it really is hers, when it’s not.

Whether you like the song or not, Siwa has put the internet in a frenzy, and not for a good reason. I think Siwa deserves a lot of the hate she’s receiving, as she seems so blind to the fact that this release wasn’t really a pivot in her carrer, and nor was something never done by any other ex-child star. Honestly, the bad music might have been the easiest part of this whole “Karma” situation to digest.

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