Joji has finally announced his sophomore record Nectar. Due to be released on 10th July 2020, he’s been slowly unleashing songs off it for the past few months including Run and most recent single Gimme Love. Over the past year or so, Joji has picked up plenty of new fans so we thought it would be a good time to go track his career. From YouTube personality Pink Guy to Nectar, this is the story of Joji as told through 10 songs.
OG Joji fans will know that he started out as YouTube sensation Pink Guy. It basically featured him in a pink suit singing humorously angsty songs and shocking unsuspecting members of the public with aggression. It all eventuated in a record called Pink Season but it seems his intention was always to use his YouTube persona to transform into a serious musician.
He told Pigeons & Planes back in 2017, "I've always wanted to make normal music.”
“I just started the YouTube channel to kind of bump my music. But then Filthy Frank and the Pink Guy stuff ended up getting way bigger than I thought so I had to kind of roll with it.”
Joji officially stepped into his new moniker with Will He, a slow-moving, piano-led ballad that immediately ditched any comedic touches. It’s a late-night cut that features some of his most free-flowing melodic work. It also signaled the start of his work with the label 88Rising which is also the home of Rich Brian.
Will He was the first taste of his debut EP In Tongues - a six-track collection that arrived in 2017. It fleshed out Joji’s vision for himself as a musician, painting him as an emotional, intimate songwriter.
Joji may be known now as the king of melancholy but he can turn up when he wants to. He teamed up with 88Rising members Kris Wu and Rich Brian as well as Baauer and Trippe Redd for this hard-hitting hip-hop cut. To be fair, Joji doesn’t exactly turn up on this track. He’s responsible for the beat-change, moving from trap into a sweeping, piano-led beat.
With Joji’s transition into serious musicians complete, he dropped off the first single from his debut album Ballads 1 in May of 2018. Yeah Right has him in a mode of self-destruction over an emotional, swelling beat. “Imma fuck up my life,” he sings, continuing, “We gon’ party all night.” It catches him in a dark comedown that’s echoed in the songs woozy sonics.
Head In The Clouds
As Joji’s star was rising so too was that of his label 88Rising. Rich Brian was pulling big streaming numbers and NIKI was beginning to position herself as a promising pop voice. The crew came together for the Head In The Clouds project which heavily featured Joji music. He delivered the title track of the project closing it in style with a melancholic, modern R&B jam. On top of that, he also collaborated with fast-rising rapper BlocBoy JB on one of the sunniest songs in his whole collection.
Slow Dancing In The Dark
Coming just months before his album Ballads 1, Joji connected big time with Slow Dancing In The Dark. The elongated, elegant track ushered in a new era of maturity for Joji and introduced him to a whole new audience. With close to half a billion streams, it’s the biggest song of his career so far, earning him his highest US chart entry (until it was eclipsed recently by Run). The song was also the subject of a TikTok challenge called the “Microwave Challenge”. It basically featured TikTok-ers acting like a microwave plate which is surely not where Joji saw this song ending up.
The first single from his forthcoming record Nectar arrived almost a year after Ballads 1 and signaled yet another update for Joji. His voice was more present than ever, ditching the lo-fi aesthetic for something more stadium-ready. The falsetto-laden pre-chorus is one of his biggest moments to date and shows a confidence that he’s continued with every single from the album. The song was his first to chart on the Australian ARIA charts.
Still a dedicated member of 88Rising, Joji appeared on the second edition of Head In The Clouds. The most notable of his contributions is Breathe, a dancehall-inspired track featuring Miami producer Don Krez. It’s one of the most danceable tracks Joji has released in recent memory.
Run is one of the boldest moments Joji has ever delivered. It’s a heart-swelling ballad that showcases his vocals more than ever before. In the video for the track, Joji seems to be running from fame. Unfortunately, it seems it’s unavoidable for him at this point. The track immediately shot into charts worldwide proving his newfound star power.
Joji has kicked up the pace on his next single Gimme Love which moves at a frantic pace. The pace dips out eventually though and we’re treated to a flood of strings that feel like they would’ve fit nicely on Abbey Road. Joji keeps getting more and more ambitious with his soundscapes and this one is truly beautiful. It’s not all serious though. The video he delivered alongside the track taps back into his penchant for humour.