In an episode on the most recent season of Dance Moms, 13-year-old JoJo Siwa, who loves hip-hop and is prone to wearing large bows in her hair, is tasked with channeling Michael Jackson for a solo dance she will be taking to a competition. She can do it no problem, she says, because she IS Michael Jackson.
In her latest video, though, which came out last week, she seems to be channelling someone quite different; maybe early Lil Mama as filtered through Sophia Grace’s brain after having time-traveled to a Claire’s in any given Midwestern shopping mall. “Boomerang” is a classic junior high West Side Story narrative, the Sharks and Jets replaced by the mean girl crew (wearing menacing black) and the down-to-earth, bow-loving girls (all pastels and glasses).
There’s no shortage of dancers here—Dance Moms fans will recognize a clutch of extras, including mom Jessalynn Siwa, Kendall Vertes and Kendall’s mom Jill—though ironically some of the choreography seems off? Still, the true point here is the tween girl self-esteem/friendship banger, one of my favorite niche categories of music, particularly when purveyed by anyone made famous by reality television and/or Ellen. And the chorus is incredible:
Hide behind the screen ‘cause they’re just so mean
But we don’t play it like that
We don’t even fight back
All of the boys who just brush it off
Sayin’ we’re fake, yeah?
No we’re not
Try and throw us off track
But we know how to come back
JoJo is killing it. And because the central philosophy of Dance Moms is not leaving anybody out (ha), don’t forget that Kendall’s out here doing her thing, too.