Following the release of his 2022 hit single “Glimpse of Us,” Japanese R&B singer Joji announced that he would kick off his “Smithereens” tour on Sept 1 at Stanford’s Frost Amphitheater. Performing alongside Joji at Frost will be R&B and rap artists Rei Brown and SavageRealm.
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, a music label focused on Asian hip-hop, 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 has experimented with his music by collaborating with artists like Lil Yachty, Joji has mostly stayed true to the music style that launched him into fame: dark love songs.
As Joji’s performance rapidly approaches, it is time to revisit some of his biggest hits in the past years of his career. He recently hit his biggest musical achievement yet 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 charting on this chart. “Slow Dancing in the Dark,” his most popular song, achieved two-time platinum multi-status after its release on the Ballads 1 album in 2018.
For those who are familiar with these songs, it’s clear what makes Joji such a popular artist. Joji mixes R&B with elements of trap, electronic, lofi and his melodic singing to create what he describes as “dark love songs.”
Some big hits that Joji will likely perform are “Sanctuary,” “Yeah Right” and “Slow Dancing in the Dark.” “Sanctuary” and “Yeah Right” both sound very similar to each other: on both tracks, Joji sings over a slow but punchy instrumental, though the meaning of the songs are very different. “Sanctuary” is a happier song, which gives it a more cheerful and less melancholic feel. “Yeah Right” is the opposite; this track is the definition of a dark love song and captures Joji’s somber emotions perfectly.
Joji always saves the best for last by ending all his shows with “Slow Dancing in the Dark.” He typically starts with the acoustic version of the song but transitions to the radio version for the end of his performance. He sings about a failing relationship with a girl and, similarly to “Yeah Right,” he channels his feelings perfectly through this song. On stage, Joji shows off his incredible vocals during the acoustic part by adding ornaments throughout his singing and hypes up the crowd with his scream-singing during the radio version which truly makes this song an excellent closer.
“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 perspective. “Slow Dancing in the Dark” describes how his partner is thinking of someone else and should just be with him instead, while “Glimpse of Us” is about how Joji can only think of his past partner when he’s with his new one. Although Joji has not yet performed “Glimpse of Us,” the popularity it has gained through social media has fans eagerly waiting to see Joji sing his heart out on stage.
One of the guest performers Rei Brown is also an R&B artist, whose music is stylistically similar to Joji. He, too, makes love songs by combining his melodic voice with electronic, pop, and R&B instrumentals, but his music leans more toward pop than Joji’s does. Rei Brown collaborated with Joji previously on Joji’s song “Normal People” from his “Nectar” album. Joji also made an appearance on Rei’s most recent album “Xeno,” on the song “Thinking Bout You.” Both songs are likely to be performed live on Sept. 1.
SavageRealm, on the other hand, is a guest performer whose music differs drastically from Joji’s. Unlike Joji or Rei Brown, SavageRealm only makes rap music. The contrast between SavageRealm’s hard, sometimes crude rap songs and Joji’s slow, dark love songs may leave fans wondering why they are performing with each other. Although there is no definite answer, some pictures on SavageRealm’s Instagram suggest that they are friends. After all, there could be a bit of Filthy Frank still in Joji that is in tune with SavageRealm’s goofy lyrics.
The setlist for Sept. 1 will likely be different from previous shows with the addition of Rei Brown and SavageRealm, but here is the list of songs Joji performed in his last few performances in order: “Sanctuary,” “Yeah Right,” “Mr. Hollywood,” “Attention,” “will he,” “Ew,” “Like You Do,” “Demons,” “Can’t Get Over You,” “Pretty Boy,” “Gimme Love,” “Your Man,” and “Slow Dancing in the Dark.”
Editor’s Note: This article contains subjective opinions, thoughts and critiques.