Following the release of his single “Glimpse of Us” in 2022, Japanese R&B singer Joji has announced that he will kick off his “Smithereens” tour on September 1 at Stanford’s Frost Amphitheater. Alongside Joji at Frost, R&B and rap artists Rei Brown and SavageRealm will perform.
Joji’s rise to fame is unique to say the least. Before music, Joji was a star on YouTube under the name Filthy Frank, where he uploaded edgy comedy videos. He launched his music career by signing with 88rising, an Asian hip-hop focused music label, after retiring from YouTube in 2017, but his music career took off in 2018 after the release of his single “Yeah Right “, which peaked at 21 on the US Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart by Billboard. Although he experimented with his music by collaborating with artists like Lil Yachty, Joji has remained true to the musical style that propelled him to fame: dark love songs.
With Joji’s performance fast approaching, it’s time to revisit some of her greatest hits from the last few years of her career. He recently achieved his biggest musical achievement to date with the release of his single “Glimpse of Us”, which peaked at number 8 on the Billboard Hot 100 and was also Joji’s first time on this chart. “Slow Dancing in the Dark”, his most popular song, achieved twice multi-platinum status after being released on the Ballads 1 album in 2018.
For those familiar with these songs, it’s clear what makes Joji such a popular artist. Joji mixes R&B with elements of trap, electronics, lofi and his melodic singing to create what he describes as “dark love songs”.
Some big hits Joji will likely perform are “Sanctuary,” “Yeah Right,” and “Slow Dancing in the Dark.” “Sanctuary” and “Yeah Right” both sound very similar: on both tracks, Joji sings on a slow but percussive instrument, even though the meaning of the songs are very different. “Sanctuary” is a happier song, which gives it a happier and less melancholic side. “Yeah, right” is the opposite; this track is the definition of a dark love song and perfectly captures Joji’s dark emotions.
Joji always saves the best for last by ending all of his shows with “Slow Dancing in the Dark”. He usually starts with the acoustic version of the song but switches to the radio version for the end of his performance. He sings about a failing relationship with a girl, and similar to “Yeah Right,” he channels his feelings perfectly through this song. On stage, Joji shows off his amazing voice during the acoustic part by adding embellishments throughout his vocals and hyping up the crowd with his screaming vocals during the radio version which really makes this song a great matchup.
“Glimpse of Us” is another song about a failing relationship, and is very similar to “Slow Dancing in the Dark”; in fact, the lyrics describe the same situation from the other person’s point of view. “Slow Dancing in the Dark” describes how his partner thinks of someone else and should just be with him instead, while “Glimpse of Us” explains how Joji can only think of his former partner when he is with her again. Although Joji has yet to perform “Glimpse of Us,” the popularity he’s gained through social media has fans looking forward to seeing Joji sing his heart out on stage.
One of the guest artists, Rei Brown, is also an R&B artist, whose music is stylistically similar to Joji. He too makes love songs by combining his melodic vocals with electronic, pop and R&B instrumentals, but his music leans more towards pop than Joji’s. Rei Brown previously collaborated with Joji on Joji’s song “Normal People” from her album “Nectar.” Joji also made a guest appearance on Rei’s latest album “Xeno”, on the song “Thinking Bout You”. Both songs are scheduled to be performed live on September 1.
SavageRealm, meanwhile, is a guest artist whose music differs dramatically from Joji’s. Unlike Joji or Rei Brown, SavageRealm only raps. The contrast between SavageRealm’s harsh and sometimes raw rap songs and Joji’s slow, dark love songs may leave fans wondering why they play together. While there’s no definitive answer, some photos on SavageRealm’s Instagram suggest they’re friends. After all, there might still be a bit of Filthy Frank in Joji that’s in tune with SavageRealm’s goofy lyrics.
The September 1 setlist will likely be different from previous shows with the addition of Rei Brown and SavageRealm, but here’s the list of songs Joji performed during his last performances in order: “Sanctuary”, “Yeah Right”, “Mr. Hollywood”, “Watch Out”, “Will He”, “Yuck”, “Like You”, “Demons”, “Can’t Get Over You”, “Pretty Boy”, “Gimme Love”, “Your Man”, and “Slow Dance in the Dark”.
Editor’s Note: This article contains opinions, thoughts, and subjective criticism.