Show me an American teenager in the early 2000s who did not lope around a suburban mall with JoJo’s “Leave (Get Out)” locked on repeat on an iPod mini at least once, and I’ll show you a liar; the track, for uninterrupted months, was a fanatical fixture of Top 40 radio, late-night MTV reels, music charts, and just about every other measurable bastion of pop culture. Before there was Olivia Rodrigo, before there was Billie Eilish, there was 13-year-old JoJo, belting out a break-up anthem from a high-school hallway.
The singer, now 30 — yes, take a beat to reflect on the slippage of time through your fingers like sand in a feeble hourglass, whatever — has dropped her new song “Creature of Habit,” after teasing a snippet on Instagram earlier this week. “It’s like I’m kinda scared to leave you / it’s not a feature I’m proud of,” she sings on the boppy, drama-rich track, backboned by moody orchestration.
“Creature of Habit,” whose video is set for release at 1pm EST, will presumably live on JoJo’s sixth studio album. The singer had also planned a tour for 2021 but canceled it due to Covid-19, writing in January that ticketholders can claim full refunds and that she is working to ready both the new tour and the new album for 2022.
JoJo has been writing and recording music ever since she soared into the stratosphere with “Leave (Get Out)” in 2004 — but much of it was against the fraught backdrop of a dispute with her former label, Blackground Records. For several years, JoJo did not release new music or see her back catalog appear on streaming services because of legal tussles over her recording contract and alleged treatment at the hands of the label; the singer sued to be released from her contract in 2009, sued for “irreparable damages” to her career in 2013, and has also said in recent months that label executives put her on a 500-calorie-a-day diet and gave her injections to reduce her appetite.
She ultimately disentangled herself from Blackground, but the label retained control of her first two albums JoJo and The High Road. As a result, JoJo went back into the studio in 2018 to re-record those two albums, telling W that she wanted to “come up with a constructive way to satisfy what fans wanted and to also get the creatives, [herself] included, the publishing money” — and that she “vividly remembered being so excited, so innocent and naive” when recording them for the first time at ages 12 and 14. Her full discography, including the re-records, is available on streaming now.
The singer said in an interview last year that Taylor Swift, who took up a label battle of her own against longtime label Big Machine after it sold her catalog to Scooter Braun and recently followed JoJo’s suit in re-recording her early albums, offered support in her dispute with Blackground; while her own situation was markedly different from Swift’s, JoJo acknowledged, the two singers sympathized deeply with one another because “it does suck to feel like you are not in control of your own shit.”