Joji & Diplo
Joji is a new breed of pop star, designed for the digital age. Emerging from YouTube, the entertainer reinvented himself as a “sad boi” crooner, the relentless ‘next-up’ on your breezy Spotify playlist. His statistics are massive: over 4.6 billion global streams; a sold-out North American tour within minutes; performance slots at festivals as varied as Reading & Leeds and Lollapalooza.
Second album Nectar is scheduled for release on September 25 and Daylight is the fourth single from it, after Gimme Love, Run, and Sanctuary. For the song he’s recruited the stellar name of superstar producer, Diplo. It’s a collaboration that was always going to gather attention, with two buzz-worthy talents coming together.
The resulting music is inconsequential though. Diplo isn’t fussy when it comes to who he works with, his partnerships running the gamut of music, from Madonna to Craig David, M.I.A. to Justin Bieber, but Daylight won’t reach the heights of his biggest hits for longevity or quality. Daylight diverges from the producer’s standard commercial house and EDM, its light, crisp and laid-back beat barely there, the endeavour favouring Joji’s style. The whole thing never rises above a forgetful mid-tempo rhythm, Joji’s drawl not doing much to pique one’s attention.
It’s the accompanying video that is the most interesting thing about this collaboration: Joji and Diplo are both known for the intersection of humour with their music (Joji starting on YouTube as the notorious character Filthy Frank) and the video sees an ageing boy band – Old Kids On The Block – make a music video as Diplo and Joji play two interfering production crew members, generally causing trouble for the exasperated director. It’s ludicrous, aimless fun, the atmosphere appropriately warm and happy for a song called Daylight.
Still, even the video isn’t without it’s issues. The onscreen hilarity makes no attempt to match up to the lyrics. Joji narrates the helpless feelings felt towards the end of a relationship. He emotes: “Bad luck, I don’t wanna be home at midnight/ Sun’s up, I don’t really wanna fight the daylight/ I don’t care if you moved on/ I’m not layin’ in bed with a fucked up head”. The mismatch between video and song renders the words meaningless and empty. When Joji sounds pained, it feels forced. There is also flagrant product placement, Johnnie Walker’s endorsement earning its keep with Black Label being displayed lavishly.
Despite all of this, no doubt Joji and Diplo’s song is destined to find success. It will be replayed on radio and online playlists for the rest of 2020, for this is by-the-numbers pop, with all the grace of music being made in a lab.