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Paul Asay

Album Review

The outsized phenomenon known as the Jonas Brothers has abated a bit, with millions of girls turning their rapt attention to culture’s newest mop-topped poppet, Justin Bieber. But while the tween masses may not have eyes just for Disney’s fab three anymore, the Jonas Brothers are staying loyal, proving to their fan base that they’re not going anywhere. They can still crank out light pop confections like nobody’s business—even if said sugary substances are tightly wrapped in the confines of a sitcom.

The JONAS L.A. soundtrack features songs from the Disney Channel show of the same name—and the vibe is refreshingly old-school Jonas (if one can say such a thing about a band that’s only been signed for five years). While the 2009 release, Lines, Vines and Trying Times, was called out for being a bit pretentious and “too mature” by some critics, JONAS L.A. is straight power-pop—the same sound that propelled the brothers into the stratosphere of the preteen planet in the first place.

Pro-Social Content

You’ll not hear the Jonas Brothers sing about global warming, offshore oil spills or government bailouts on JONAS L.A. They don’t preach about anything, in fact. All they want is love, love, love. Songs range from sweet (“Fall” spins off the lines, “I’m not afraid to fall/If you’re the one who catches me”) to sweeter (“Then out of the blue you came,” goes “Summer Rain,” “Ya shined a little light on a cloudy day”) to positively sugary (“You came, you saw, you conquered my heart,” gushes “Critical”). Sad songs, such as “Things Will Never Be the Same” and “Make it Right,” don’t cast judgment (“But it’s over/There’s no one to blame”), and they even sometimes engage in honest self-criticism (“But I’m gonna treat you better/’Cause if I had one wish/You’d be with me forever”). When it looks as though “Chillin’ in the Summertime” might be ready to steer into problematic content, the boys pull it back. “When the night is through,” Nick sings, “Baby girl, it’s just me and you/There’s only one thing left to do … and that’s play this song for you.”

Objectionable Content

Not all of the songs steer so obviously clear of trouble. When life throws conflict or other bad stuff your way, “Drive” advocates “Lots of crazy rides/You can’t think twice/So get in the car and drive.” Lines like “I’m dreamin’ of you and me dancin’/No one’s interfering/Gotta do it ourselves/We don’t need ’em” and “I gotta hear you scream” may be interpreted by some fans as hints at either a bit of rebellion or sexuality.

Summary Advisory

The familiarity of the sound on this release may help allay the fears of fans and their parents that the Jonases might be the next Disney stars to stray. While Mouse House celebs Miley Cyrus and Vanessa Hudgens have set aside their kid-friendly images, the Jonas Brothers continue to publicly embrace both Disney’s values and their own. The Jonases still gather to pray before every concert, according to The New York Times. And when a Canadian blogger alleged that Joe Jonas had been sleeping with now ex-girlfriend (and fellow Disney star) Demi Lovato, Jonas Brothers’ attorneys promptly threatened a lawsuit.

Content-wise, Jonas Brothers are still as reliable and safe a quantity as the music world has to offer these days. The boys plan to release a new non-soundtrack album on Hollywood Records sometime in 2011—one that may tell listeners a tad more about where they’re heading, both musically and culturally. But for now, they’ve given fans another famously frothy favorite, and it’ll fit like a favorite tee.

Paul Asay
Paul Asay

Paul Asay has been part of the Plugged In staff since 2007, watching and reviewing roughly 15 quintillion movies and television shows. He’s written for a number of other publications, too, including Time, The Washington Post and Christianity Today. The author of several books, Paul loves to find spirituality in unexpected places, including popular entertainment, and he loves all things superhero. His vices include James Bond films, Mountain Dew and terrible B-grade movies. He’s married, has two children and a neurotic dog, runs marathons on occasion and hopes to someday own his own tuxedo. Feel free to follow him on Twitter @AsayPaul.

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