JoJo Siwa Is Here To Make History

JoJo Siwa Is Here To Make History

By Ivan GuzmanApr 05, 2024

There have been many “shes” in JoJo Siwa’s life. There is Abby Lee Miller, who yelled at her on Dance Moms. There are the millions of little “shes” who subsequently idolized Siwa, donning her signature bows from Claire’s, buying her merch and scrambling to see the child superstar on her global tours. But now, the “she” is karma, and she’s a bitch. She's also with JoJo’s ex… right now.

The 20-year-old’s new single, “Karma,” is a coming-of-age on all fronts. Since coming out as a lesbian in 2021, Siwa has been inching closer toward a big pop cultural moment that breaks away from her bubblegum, PG-rated image. It all comes together on her new track, a raucous early 2010s-esque EDM banger that — as Aquaria took the liberty to point out — when pitched down, sounds like a Myspace-era Jeffree Star song that would’ve been all over scene kids’ iPods in 2009.

There are layers here. The references in “Karma” don’t stop there, and it’s pretty clear that Siwa is hyper-aware of her shock value strategy. There’s the KISS-inspired metal makeup look that Gene Simmons himself co-signed. The video is a glitzy, highly choreographed aquatic frenzy, featuring Siwa dry-humping a Lava Girl-looking lover in the sand. Her main inspiration, she says, is Miley’s Bangerz era — a monumental turning point where the child star does a full 180, rebels and makes history.

But is that type of moment — the “Can’t Be Tamed” breakthrough — even possible anymore, when everyone online is desensitized and nothing is shocking? Stan Twitter has criticized Siwa’s Bangerz aspirations as being too on-the-nose and try hard, but in my opinion, it’s glorious. Why? Because JoJo Siwa has lived and breathed it.

JoJo may be a "cringe" Gen Z Energizer bunny, but in many ways, she’s in the league of Britney, Selena, Lindsay and Miley, figures who were thrust into the spotlight essentially against their will and had to figure out their adulthood through the media lens. It’s rare for pop stars to have a truly impactful “I’m a Slave 4 U” type sexual awakening in the music landscape these days, but if she plays her cards right, Siwa could do it.

Sure, parents of kids who have grown up with the colorful, bombastic JoJo Siwa may not like it. The dramatic shift in style may be a brand deal-breaking risk. But in the words of JoJo herself, “Someone’s gotta do it.”

Photography courtesy of JoJo Siwa