Review: ‘Love?’ by Jennifer Lopez

What a difference a year makes.

A year ago, Jennifer Lopez was dealing with a number of career setbacks. The lead single from her upcoming album, “Louboutins,” was an undeniable flop (literally – she even fell on her well-known derriere during an American Music Awards performance of the song), which led her long-time record label, Epic Records, to drop her from their roster and shelve the already repeatedly-delayed album, Love?

Now, Lopez is signed with Island/Def Jam, the label that reinvigorated the career of Mariah Carey, and Love? is finally seeing the light of day in modified form. With a plum judging gig on American Idol and her first Top 10 single on the Billboard Hot 100 since 2003 (through the album’s lead single for Island/Def Jam, “On the Floor”), Lopez is poised for a career high not seen since the days she went by the “J.Lo” moniker – a moniker Lopez is now reclaiming.

As for the music itself, Love? might be better off titled Dance!, because dance beats infiltrate every track of the album. The album is led by a quartet of RedOne-produced tracks, including “On the Floor” and the Lady Gaga-penned “Invading My Mind,” which combine modern dance beats with the Latin sounds that permeated Lopez’s earliest hits; think “Waiting for Tonight” revamped for 2011.

Also helping connect the material on Love? to Lopez’s biggest hits is the presence of guest rappers on the album. In the case of Love?, that means Pitbull (on “On the Floor”) and Lil Wayne (on “I’m Into You”), both of whom work as well with the 2011 image of J.Lo as Ja Rule and LL Cool J did nearly a decade ago.

If there’s a quibble to find on the album, it’s the disconnection between the album title and the album’s contents. When the album title was announced back in 2009, Lopez said that the name came from a concept about love that would span the entire album. While there are songs that deal with love, as there are on any other Lopez album, there are plenty of songs that don’t deal with love in any capacity, unless Lopez wants to make the argument that songs about being on the dance floor are about a love of the dance floor.

Minor quibbles aside, Lopez has adeptly updated her sound to work in 2011, and has brought herself back into the public eye well enough to ensure that Love? is a success. As J.Lo herself says on the song “Good Hit,” she’s got a…well, good hit.

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