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Critic’s Notebook: The J. Lo Bubble Burst — How (Un)Likability Ruined Her Tour

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Five years ago, Jennifer Lopez was on a white-hot tour, selling out arenas like Madison Square Garden and performing her popular hits from the late ‘90s and early 2000s.

Lopez is a multi-faceted entertainer, but the stage is where she truly shines. She will give you slick choreography, dazzling costumes and bright, beaming lights. For her, being onstage is being at home. Her performance alongside Shakira at the Super Bowl halftime show, which came months after her 2019 It’s My Party nationwide jaunt, further proved this. 

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So selling out an arena tour — the same venues Lopez has performed at for two decades — isn’t normally a problem for the star. And Live Nation wouldn’t have booked a tour if they didn’t think she could sell the tickets. But Lopez’s headline-making decision to cancel her upcoming trek due to family issues amid reports of poor ticket sales likely has nothing to do with her music or hitmaking ability. 

For years artists with strong catalogs have successfully performed on the road. At times the tours are tied to a new album — one most don’t care to hear during live shows — but sometimes there isn’t new music. We all know how well nostalgia sells, and Lopez is one of hundreds of acts who have benefited from this. It’s been 13 years since her last major hit: “On the Floor” peaked at No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 2011. Before that, it was 2005’s “Get Right” and 2006’s “Control Myself.” New hits are not a factor. While they would be helpful, they are not a necessity to sell a tour.

Instead, it’s about likability. And social media likes, or lack thereof.

And here’s likely when shit hit Lopez’s fan: She named the tour after her much scrutinized, trippy Amazon Prime musical film This Is Me… Now: A Love Story and album This Is Me… Now. They were accompanied with a documentary titled The Greatest Love Story Never Told, which gave an inside look at the making of the film. That really lit up social media, and not in a good way.

She was clowned, and clowned, and clowned again — from her playing with her hair as she remembered her early days in the Bronx to what people deemed an inauthentic bodega order, taken from an interview she did to promote her new projects. She was even criticized for her matter-of-fact response when asked which designer she was wearing at the Met Gala — simply “Schiaparelli” wasn’t effusive enough for some. Every move she made was met with an eye roll. 

Because of the way audiences consume media today, it’s fair to assume that those who have heavily bashed Lopez didn’t even watch either of those films. They just read the headlines — in this case, watched 20 second clips on social media. I watched both films, and yes, they were corny and at times cringeworthy, but they weren’t that bad (and actually received some decent reviews). Unfortunately, that doesn’t matter, and the constant TikToks blasting her won over the internet, revealing Lopez’s unlikability factor. At this point, it’s like she can do no right. She is giving the ick.

And it’s not that Lopez was always the most-liked celebrity — for years people have said the “I’m Real” singer isn’t that real and questioned her street cred though she sings about being “Jenny from the Block” in the Bronx. And others have called her out for keeping vocals from Ashanti and Christina Milian on the hits they wrote for her without acknowledging them. But this year, the aversion to Lopez seemed to reach new levels. 

And sadly that spilled over to her tour. Lopez tried to rebrand the live shows, ditching the same name of her film and album and making it about her career hits. But it was too late — the domino effect played out and the world jumped on the bandwagon and boarded the J. Lo hate train. People even used clips of Sterling K. Brown’s expressions during their promotional tour for Netflix’s super-successful Atlas to try and suggest he was throwing subtle shade at his co-star.

The tour cancellation also revealed something else: fickle fans. When you don’t have millions of die-hard devotees like Beyoncé or Taylor Swift — or when you’re not the it-artist of the moment like Billie Eilish or Olivia Rodrigo — you’re trying to appeal to potential ticket buyers who could be easily swayed to go to your show, or pass.

It’s like going to Las Vegas and deciding to see a certain artist’s show. It gave you something to do for a night. But if you missed it, the trip still went on. That’s J. Lo and her axed tour in a nutshell. 

Love don’t cost a thing, but loyalty is priceless.

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