George Miller, better known as Joji, has made a stark transition within the past few years. Once the iconoclast of surrealist horror, he has unexpectedly transformed into the poster child of the alternative R&B movement.
After dropping 2017’s In Tongues and 2018’s BALLADS 1, Joji was catapulted onto the main stage with the latter release opening at #3 on the Billboard charts. As he began to mature as an artist, he shed his lo-fi roots to pave way for increasingly decadent music. Once known as “Pink Guy” musically, his new identity – Joji – allowed for his palette of strings, spacious 808 drums and dazzling piano keys to create an isolated, yet resonating space where his voice could flourish.
A common criticism of Joji was that he was merely attempting to transition to a futile career, akin to the ones of fellow YouTubers KSI or Jake Paul. However, rather than the substance-less and absurdity of the two, Miller has managed to create a DIY-pop sound from the ground up. Yet another gripe was his was the wobbly, meandering voice he presented during his actual performances. His previous “lo-fi” releases would allow him to typecast his weaknesses as a strength, and use it to create more jagged palettes on songs like “ATTENTION” and “You Suck Charlie.”
On Joji’s newest single, “Run,” he has come full circle on all of those criticisms. Performing twee, velvety vibratos on the opening of the verse, “I witness your madness / You shed light on my sins / And if we share in this sadness / Then where have you been,” he is no longer choked up and lets his voice project freely. Likewise, Joji’s falsettos no longer have this almost airless and sometimes rhaspy quality to them.
Rather than singing from a place of hopelessness, Joji sounds confident and dynamic alongside the production. The minimalist guitar of the background showcases his vocal improvement unabashedly. Coupled with the impressive manipulation of his pitch, it is evident that Joji wants his voice front and center, an otherwise unusual trait in his music. “I don’t got no stock In this misery / Guess I’m not enough / Like you used to think.” His delivery is more crisp and biting than ever as he sings in calm and bombastic demeanor.
With spacious, intimate production powerfully synergizing with confessional lyrics, “Run” proves Joji not only has the stamina to keep pace, but outrun his competition.
Featured image retrieved from the “Run” music video.