On September 12th, 2018, George Miller, better known by his stage name as Joji, released a single, “SLOW DANCING IN THE DARK,” and accompanying music video.
Joji’s last solo work, “YEAH RIGHT,” was released in May. During recent months, he was featured on Ryan Hemsworth’s “Think About U” and appeared on three tracks of the 88rising label mixtape, “Head in the Clouds.” While he has been actively involved with projects separate from his own, it has been quite some time since he has released solo material and he has yet to put out a full length album. Leading up to this release, Joji and his label, 88rising, periodically released teaser clips of the song and preview shots from the video on their various social media platforms. These marketing efforts alongside the scarcity of new Joji solo content resulted in the creation of a great deal of anticipation surrounding this release. As “YEAH RIGHT” showed improvements in Joji’s musical ability by displaying an increased level of confidence in his individual sound, it lacked lyrical complexity. Joji’s contributions to the “Head in the Clouds” mixtape were of a higher production value, these songs were not nearly as inventive and uniquely Joji-esque as his previous music. “SLOW DANCING IN THE DARK,” however, marks a significant increase in Joji’s maturity as both a lyricist and a producer.
While “YEAH RIGHT” features simple and repetitive lyrics, painting a vaguely melancholic picture, “SLOW DANCING IN THE DARK”, tells a more detailed and evocative story of failing in love, while still holding his trademark mysterious and non-specific lyrical qualities. Over a complex beat featuring numerous grandiose builds and instrumental flourishes, Joji sings bittersweet lyrics in his characteristic mellow affectation. He periodically builds up from subdued vocal deliveries to impressive moments in the chorus where he pushes himself to the upper registers of his vocal range, his vocals paralleling the instrumental crescendos. This helps supplement the high emotion which he aims to convey in the song. His lyrics reveal vulnerable moments dripping in feelings of insecurity and inadequacy, interspersed between instances of bittersweet acceptance. For instance, he tells a mystery person, “you should be with him, I can’t compete” in the chorus. Then proceeds to say in the second pre-chorus with “I don’t fuck with your tone,” only to immediately follow this by begging this person to give him another chance for at least one more night by saying “I don’t wanna go home.” This expertly encapsulates the complexity of love and the difficulty of knowing when to call it quits in a romantic relationship.
Thus, with this song, Joji exhibits that he has made the most of his increased time in the game the vast resources and support that come with him being signed to a label. All of this collectively makes his upcoming album release, Ballads 1, seem all the more promising.
Joji along with the rest of his label mates such as Rich Brian and Keith Ape, will be performing at the Head in the Clouds Music & Arts Festival in LA State Historic Park Saturday September 22nd.