REVIEW: ‘BALLADS 1’ uses smooth tones to process pain in relationships

Image from the music video for "SLOW DANCING IN THE DARK" by Joji.

George Miller, also known by his musical persona, Joji, came out with his second album on Oct. 26, 2018.

For those listening to Joji’s new album “BALLADS 1,” it’s difficult not to think of the artist as his previous identity, YouTuber Filthy Frank.

Former fans of his YouTube channel would most likely hear his raspy character voice and think of his old comedic videos. However, having quit comedy and devoted his effort solely to his musical career, Joji’s second album has hit No. 1 on Billboard’s Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart.

Miller as an artist is much different from the character he used to portray on YouTube. Frank was sarcastic and on top of the world, while Joji only seriously describes what he feels at the bottom of the pit.

Imagine “lofi hip-hop” with a man quietly and smoothly slurring his feelings and dark thoughts on top of it.

The first song on the album, “ATTENTION,” is a plea from Joji to a girl he has a relationship with. He’s asking her all kinds of questions. He doesn’t want to hurt her, but he wants to get out of the whole situation.

He’s also frustrated at how she’s handled old relationships. Joji thought saying all this would make him feel better, but when he’s done, he’s just worried about how it sounded. It’s a short, honest thesis to the album which describes the pain of so many trying to figure out relationships.

“SLOW DANCING IN THE DARK,” the second track, is almost the same. He says, “I don’t want a friend, I want my life in two.” Joji is telling a girl he doesn’t want a friend, but rather he wants to share his life with someone.

This song is a lot less subtle than the others on the album, which is mostly comprised of songs that would be good to fall asleep to. The track is louder, and he holds some long notes on the word “dark,” emphasizing his pain and confusion.

He’s not sure about the whole relationship, and he doesn’t want to drag her into something that would just end up hurting both of them. It’s a very transparent message.

In the middle of the album, Joji summarizes his fear of relationships when he says, “I’ma f*** up my life,” on “YEAH RIGHT.” This was the first single from the album, and it concisely gives the message he wants to convey.

In this situation, he begins to think that the girl doesn’t care about him one bit, even going as far as to say, “We gon’ party all night, she don’t care if I die.” Joji starts to feel depleted by the girl, and after pouring out his emotions with no reciprocation he starts to attack her with his words.

While he thinks she dances well and that’s kind of neat, he asks what she knows about love, life and blood. He even says “B****, you ain’t even my type.” When he doesn’t feel cared about, it seems he decides not to care about her.

However, he rethinks this when he says, “I’m overthinking my pride.” Although he’s mad at the girl, and wants to seek revenge through his words, it seems this isn’t the right path. This is what I appreciate about Joji, he says everything he thinks no matter how hard or weird it may seem. This is evidently resonating with a certain crowd.

On “NO FUN,” Joji addresses the issue of his friends, no longer a relationship with a girl. After all his friends leave him, he says “f*** my friends, they’re gone.” This is a well-done song as it has a very optimistic undertone, but the lyrics are quite depressing.

Joji is illustrating that he is putting on a face. He decides that he doesn’t want to go through the emotional vulnerability again so he keeps to himself, leading to even more pain. Then he says “I know it’s my fault, but I don’t care.” This just even more shows the face he is trying to put on.

This is an open, honest album made by a man who is just trying to process all the issues in his life and in his head. He does so by creating relaxing beats and soft vocals which are great for late-night car rides in the dark.

While some may just think of his YouTube persona and enjoy the smooth sounds, others may understand exactly what Joji is saying and find some relief in the fact that they are not alone.

Peter Loganbill is a Collegian staff writer and a junior in mass communications. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Collegian. Please send comments to

I'm Pete Loganbill and I'm the News Editor for the Collegian and host of the Collegian Kultivate podcast! I spent two years at Johnson County Community College, and I am now a senior in Public Relations at K-State. I believe constant communication leads to progress, no matter how difficult a comment may be for me or anyone to hear. Contact me at