Welcome back to TGJ Replay!
Designed much like our ‘Retro Rewind’ and ‘From the Vault’ features, ‘Replay’ is That Grape Juice‘s newest reflective segment to act as a written quest to re-spin the gems and jams of yesterday. Unlike its TGJ retrospective predecessors, ‘Replay’ looks to dust off and showcase entire albums (and eras) from a library of pop and Urban pop music hits.
Now, as she celebrates her 46th birthday today, we’ll book a time trip back to 2002 to salute the release of ‘This Is Me…Then’ – the third album of media mogul Jennifer Lopez.
Jennifer Lopez was undoubtedly at the height of her career in early 2002. After successfully transitioning from actress to pop star with 1999’s ‘On the 6,’ the multitalented diva was thrust to the forefront of the media with #1 movies, clothing line, and music efforts to boot. But, as her professional successes continued to rise, her personal endeavors – on the other hand – were singing a different tune.
Scrutinized by the media after a highly publicized breakup with Sean ‘Puffy’ Combs (Diddy) and later husband/choreographer Cris Judd, mid-2002 saw J. Lo (as she’d been affectionately christened by fans) rising on the romantic front yet again courtesy of Academy Award-winning boo Ben Affleck. Their union would be the inspiration behind the singer’s third album ‘This Is Me…Then.’
Once again calling on the help of producers/writers Cory Rooney, Dan Shea, Troy Oliver, and more, the diva would sonically play it safe by staying faithful to the radio friendly R&B/hip-hop blend that made her first two projects so successful. Contextually, however, the album housed her most personal content to date as she was more involved with its creation. Evidence of this was found via the album’s first official release:
‘Jenny From the Block’
Offering a stylized peek into her world, the accompanying music video was designed to give fans a bird-eye view into a day in the life of the pop songstress who was hounded to unforgivable heights during the course of her relationship with Affleck (who also makes a cameo in the video). Despite helping the song to its lofty #3 perch on the Hot 100, the visual actually backfired and was credited by many for (temporarily) ruining his career. It was just tacky.
J.Lo couldn’t say the same as the song only confirmed her status as a pop force. Brewing ample buzz for its parent album to follow, ‘This Is Me…Then’ debuted at #6 on the Billboard 200 in December 2002 to the tune of 314,000 sold (her highest first week sales to date).
‘All I Have’
‘Block’s buoyancy in the top 10 of that tally was undoubtedly assisted by its follow-up single ‘All I Have’ featuring LL Cool J. An instant success, the song’s #25 premiere made it the highest debut of the year. A little over a month later, it was looking down on competition from the Hot 100’s top spot (where it remained for four weeks).
It was her fourth overall #1 single on the chart and, as of July 2015, her last.
Despite ‘All I Have’ having helped hoist ‘This Is Me…Then’ back to the top of the Billboard 200 (to a #2 peak), reports began surfacing that J. Lo was displeased with the songs & their success as they were too reminiscent of her previous work. In an effort to display artistic growth and not ‘revisit old territory,’ the diva pulled ‘I’m Glad’ as the third single from the project.
A song most evidently dedicated to then-boo Ben Affleck, the mid-tempo number would be lauded by critics for being an adventurous move for the singer/actress who – as previously mentioned – usually played it very safe with her up-tempo R&B/hip-hop cloaked numbers. The lauding got even louder when she unleashed the cinematic, ‘Flashdance’-inspired music video to accompany it.
Time would show that praise was limited to the critical front, however, as the song not only failed to crack the top 30 (peaking at #32), but would lend Lopez her second lowest charting single to date (behind 200o’s ‘Feeling So Good’). Well, that is until ‘Baby I Love You’ was released…
Peaking at #72, the song took ‘I’m Glad’s place as the second lowest charting tune of her career (followed by 2011’s ‘Papi’).
When the dust was all settled, ‘This Is Me…Then’ would know no acclaim from the industry via its coveted trophies (Grammy, American Music Awards, Billboard Awards, etc.), however that didn’t stop it from clearing nearly 3 million sold.
Let us tell it, ‘This Is Me’ was the genesis of many beginnings and endings for the diva. On one hand, there was a clear evolution of ‘Lopez the artist’ as she really began to take the craft more seriously (evidenced by music videos, performances, and songwriting). But, as younger singers like Beyonce and Britney Spears began seeing their domination of media and pop charts reach respective new heights, it left Lopez further and further behind and would ignite a nearly decade long downward trend in her sales.
Be that as it may, we appreciate the gem ‘This Is Me’ for what it was which is a great collection of modern pop tunes. As we press play on ‘I’m Glad,’ tell us this: