It wasn’t that long ago that Joe Jonas, now 22, was known for a) being in a band with his brothers, b) his Christian faith and, c) his commitment to abstinence as evidenced by his famous (and famously mocked) purity ring.
But those days seem like a long time ago listening to his debut solo album, Fastlife. In the Sept. 7 issue of Rolling Stone, he said, “About a year and a half ago I sat down with my brothers and said, ‘Listen, guys, I want to create something a little bit different than what we’ve been doing.'”
He’s succeeded by crafting a pulsating dance tribute to the high-octane existence he’s apparently living these days.
Love—won, in jeopardy and lost—is the dominant theme on Fastlife. And a number of tracks find Joe expressing his affection for or begging a reluctant woman to give him a chance to prove himself.
On “All This Time,” he pleads, “I know you’ve been hurt before/ … I just want to give you love/And try to keep a smile on your face.” A similar earnestness marks “Just in Love”: “I’m scared of losing you/You are worth too much to lose.” There’s more of the same on “Take It and Run”: “So many things I can’t wait to show ya/Give me the chance to get to know ya/ … Here’s our chance, let’s/Take it and run.”
On the more melancholy end of the emotional spectrum, “Not Right Now” pines for a return to better days (“We used to laugh and cry/I used to give you all my time/ … What will it take/To get everything back, OK?/’Cause I don’t really wanna feel this way”). Elsewhere on the song, Joe longs for a second chance to make things right (“If it’s not too late/Maybe we could change our fate/And undo all of our mistakes/ … We’ve come too far to give up”).
“Sorry” apologizes for self-absorbed relational patterns (“I finally found the truth/I was using you”).
Fastlife earns its Parental Advisory sticker for one use of the f-word by guest contributor Lil Wayne on the remixed version of “Just in Love.” Singing about a woman he loves, Wayne obscenely raps, “I don’t need nothing/Nothing but her/’Cause all them other b‑‑ches/Ain’t f‑‑‑ing with her.” A bit later he brags, “But she out of this world/We somewhere out in space/Making love like animals/Planet of the apes/All night/All morning.”
Joe himself never gets quite that crude, but several problematic songs include clear references to sex. “Make You Mine” is the worst offender, as the singer falls for a girl on the dance floor whom he’s never met: “Shake that, hey, that body’s so right.” And even though he doesn’t know her name, he’s ready to take her home for a night of sex (“Tell me what you want and I’ll give it/Just as long as you know where we’re headed/ … I wanna rock with you ’til sunrise/ … Back to my place when it’s all over/That’s when I’m sober.” The track also includes one use of “d‑‑n.”
“Fastlife” relies on revved-up automotive metaphors to describe Joe’s carnal desires. “I don’t know what you’re thinking/But I know what we’re drinking/Let me put your night in drive.” That, of course, means hooking up: “Can’t see nothin’ but blur lines/Hey, hey, hey/Actin’ like it’s your first time.” Elsewhere, references to speeding and a desire for “another ride” allude further to sex.
On “Love Slayer,” Joe looks forward to taming a voracious man-eater: “She’s a killa/ … Stone-cold dream stealer/Love slayer/Mostly likely I’ll be on my worst behavior/She’ll love you up all night, but I’m ready to stay up/ … And I want more of it/ … And I think I love it.” His invitation on “Take It and Run” could be heard suggestively: “I promise if you give this a try/You’ll be more than satisfied/So open the door, let me in.”
In her September 2011 article “Joe Jonas Comes of Age,” New York Times reporter Melena Ryzik wrote, “Once a mop-topped, purity-ring-wearing Disney star alongside his brothers, Joe is moving into sleeker territory, from his physique to his piqued interest in fashion, food and other epicurean pursuits. … [Fastlife] presents the formerly virginal Jonas brother, now purity-ring-free, as a party-hopping authority.”
Formerly virginal. Purity-ring-free.
Those telling phrases pretty much, sadly, say it all. Joe Jonas has evolved. Deal with it, we’re told. But we’d rather not. I think for now we’ll stick to wishing, If only the ready-to-commit, ready-to-take-responsibility side of Joe that we’ve glimpsed elsewhere could have convinced Fastlife Joe to slow down.
After serving as an associate editor at NavPress’ Discipleship Journal and consulting editor for Current Thoughts and Trends, Adam now oversees the editing and publishing of Plugged In’s reviews as the site’s director. He and his wife, Jennifer, have three children. In their free time, the Holzes enjoy playing games, a variety of musical instruments, swimming and … watching movies.