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The Quinnipiac Chronicle

The Student News Site of Quinnipiac University

The Quinnipiac Chronicle

From bows to bad girl: JoJo Siwa’s ‘Karma’ rebrand

Tripp Menhall

Following the debut of her newest single, “Karma,” JoJo Siwa is stepping into uncharted territory and embracing her so-called “bad girl” phase — which isn’t exactly a positive thing.

The former “Dance Moms” star always stood out because of her vibrant outfits, trademark hair bows and candid personality. Best known for her youthful pop music, Siwa is transitioning toward a mature phase — one she says is not for kids.

The “Karma” era includes the same amount of sequins as her previous style, but she’s openly using profanity in her new music and adding edge to her attitude — something she’s never done before.

With her new style comes a new personality. Siwa is still the outgoing icon we know, but she thinks this change has never been seen before. However, this switch from rainbows to monochrome is only to generate attention and won’t last long. Being that the majority of her fanbase is children, if she were to completely dedicate her image to match the “Karma” aesthetic, her brand would suffer tremendously.

The core message of her brand is empowerment and positivity for children and to inspire them to embrace their uniqueness. Now, her new image may be a bad influence for her audience.

Siwa ditched her pastel colors for a darker gothic look and became a less kid-friendly version of herself. While her new style draws public interest, that isn’t what outrages the public — it’s her attitude.

Siwa’s attire in the music video for “Karma” is almost an identical replica of Gene Simmons’ iconic costume from the rock band Kiss. Interestingly, when compared to Simmons in an interview, Siwa was unaware of who the interviewer was referring to.

After sitting down with Billboard on April 5, Siwa came under heavy fire on social media.

During the interview, Siwa said she wants to pioneer a new genre of music called “gay pop.” This genre, however, has been established for decades. Queer artists like Miley Cyrus, Elton John, Lady Gaga and Freddie Mercury have launched their careers with music inspired by the queer community — all of which Siwa said are her inspirations for this new era.

TikToker @lemongayde later stitched the interview to be a voice for the LGBTQ+ community.

“Part of being young and queer and coming out and joining this community — entering into this space — is learning your history. Learning your roots and knowing where we’ve come from, knowing just how much work it has taken to get us where we are today,” they said.

After realizing it was a mistake, Siwa responded.

“I am not the inventor of gay pop, for sure not,” Siwa said in a video published by TMZ. “But I do want to be a piece of making it bigger than it already is. I want to bring more attention to it.”

On the other side of things, Siwa isn’t giving credit where it’s due.

It recently came out that Siwa actually has no songwriting credits on “Karma,” despite claiming she wrote it about one of her exes.

There are rumors that suggest “Karma” was originally written for Cyrus. The production team Rock Mafia — comprising Tim James and Antonina Armato, who are credited on Siwa’s version of the song — replied to a series of Cyrus’ tweets promoting the song’s potential release in 2012.

Prior to Cyrus’ recording, however, singer Brit Smith recorded and filmed a music video for “Karma” in 2011. This history has led fans to believe Siwa stole the song.

In another TMZ video on April 12, Siwa confirmed that the song was pitched to her and never belonged to another artist. She also said she has no idea who Smith is.

It seems like both Smith and Cyrus scrapped the song, ultimately letting it fall into Siwa’s hands.

A majority of the attention Siwa is receiving isn’t the good kind. Any press is good press — and for Siwa, it’s working.

Every time I open social media, Siwa is being discussed in all her glory. Post after post, someone’s talking about her outfit, dance moves or something embarrassing she said or did. She gets people talking, and personally, I think she knows what she’s doing and how to keep it going.

Siwa feeds into social media, documenting everything she does and even collaborating with influencers like Alex Cooper, the host of the podcast “Call Her Daddy.” By doing so, she keeps her name in the headlines even if it’s for something negative.

The music video for “Karma” already has 20 million views. The video’s release was a can’t-miss event after the internet saw the excessive teasers Siwa put out.

“Karma” has led Siwa into edgier territory, sparking discussions about where this era will take her and if her efforts will be successful.

Despite the controversies online, Siwa isn’t slowing down. If anything, it’s fueling her desire to keep moving. 

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About the Contributors
Gina Lorusso
Gina Lorusso, Associate Arts & Life Editor
Tripp Menhall
Tripp Menhall, Creative Director

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