‘Rebirth’: dead on arrival

Jennifer Lopez’s “Rebirth” is a prime example of what happens when dancers step behind the mic: catastrophe.

In today’s music industry, performers are allowed too much leeway for recording when they have great dance skills, but limited musical talent. The difference between Lopez and other artists such as Mya or Ciara is she possesses absolutely no musical talent.

With “Rebirth,” Lopez aims to distance herself from her “On The 6” moniker (J. Lo) and return to her given name. The return, however, is also a revert to her original singing style – before thousands were spent on vocal coaching.

Not all the money was wasted though. Super producers Rich Harrison, Rodney Jerkins, Timbaland and Big Boi from OutKast did their best to drown out the nasal screeching of Lopez’s drowning cat voice with hotter than average beats.

Harrison’s “Get Right” was a shrewd business choice for a first single. Choosing a track in which Lopez could get up and “stretch her legs” in a video was clearly her management playing on her strong suits. The crazy, jazz saxophone-infused, Hip Hop- inspired song will lure R&B and Pop fans into purchasing the album on principle.

However, it is Harrison’s “Whatever You Want to Do” that makes him worth the money. The old-school funk track with minimal singing and heavy pauses and pick ups screams dance track like no other effort in Lopez’s “Rebirth.”

In “Step Into My World,” her best vocal performance, Lopez tries to use the technique of her predecessors. Like Janet Jackson and Aaliyah, Lopez attempts to intermingle breathy vocals and moan high notes over a sensual guitar ballad. The mellow track also separates the actress/dancer from the ultimate downfall of the album: straining to hit notes on every song.

Image issues are also abundant in a 12-song stretch.

Lopez can’t figure out if she wants to be the Nuyorican (Puerto Rican New Yorker) princess of the past, recording “Jenny from the block-esque” songs such as “Hold You Down” featuring Fat Joe or trying to “rock out” on obvious pop tracks like “Cherry Pie.”

The album’s eclecticism comes across more like Schizophrenia because there is no progression from one mood to the next.

But whatever the strong points would have been on this album, Lopez miffs them because singing is not her forte.

Also not Lopez’s forte: writing music. The two tracks the she wrote and co-produced, “Cherry Pie” and “(Can’t Believe) This Is Me” (co-written by husband, Marc Anthony) are the worst efforts from the 12-track travesty.

“Cherry Pie,” Lopez’s rock-infused ode to “bad boys,” is the biggest non-sequitur metaphor in recent history.

With lyrics like, “It’s like cherry pie/ You can’t deny it/ Driving fast/ You have to try it,” one can only assume she’s equating cherry pies with George Washington’s cherry tree, which he chopped down and then confessed to because he could not tell a lie. The 20-plus word gap between cherry and lie means undoubtedly that the metaphor is a stretch at best.

But it’s not the worst song on the album.

No, that honor goes to “(Can’t Believe) This Is Me,” an amalgamation of every Latin and Marc Anthony song ever recorded.

At some point in the song you actually begin to listen for Anthony knowing that any minute he’ll snatch the microphone and say, “Jen, honey, you’re supposed to sing it like this.”

That relief never comes.

All in all, the production effort is solid.

You’ll never hear a complaint as to the songs not being on par with the better pop releases in the past year.

All they need now is to find someone to sing them.

Grade: I

contact Robbyn Mitchell at thefamuanme@hotmail.com