Much has changed since the last time I saw Nick Jonas live. It was 2008 and he was performing with the Jonas Brothers at halftime of the “Best of Both Worlds” tour featuring Hannah Montana and Miley Cyrus as separate entities. The curly-haired tween was rumored to be in a relationship with Cyrus at the time, and he didn’t get much time in the spotlight compared to lead singer Joe Jonas.
As I expected, that is not the Nick Jonas that showed up to the Schottenstein Center on Wednesday, when the “Future Now” tour with he and Demi Lovato made its stop in Columbus.
After opening act Mike Posner ended his set by reciting an inspiring poem, Jonas took the stage, synchronizing pelvic thrusts to his song, “Levels.” Throughout much of his performance, there was video imagery on the screen which made me glad that the little girl two seats down couldn’t see it very well. Models strutted around in lingerie, played with their hair and stared seductively into the camera. Meanwhile, his backup singers wore only an oversized white collared shirt, and Jonas threw out a few swear words for good measure.
Noticeably absent was any nod to Nick Jonas and the Administration or the Jonas Brothers.
“WE GET IT NICK, YOUR PURITY RING HAS LONG SINCE BEEN DISINTEGRATED AND IS PROBABLY NOW IN THE FORM OF A MONOPOLY PIECE OR A KEYCHAIN OR SOMETHING. YOU’RE AN ADULT NOW. GOT IT,” I thought.
Maybe he heard me.
“We’re both getting emotional, Same time getting so sexual, Why can’t it just be what it is,” he sang, part of the lyrics of “Good Thing” by Sage the Gemini, which Jonas is featured on.
He might have a point here. I was feeling emotional (aka kind of peeved) that Jonas’ whole act was very sex-centered and cliche-feeling. I know he’s got more talent than that — he was on Broadway twice! But why can’t it just be what it is?
Same goes for Lovato. Her recent singles “Cool for the Summer” and “Body Say” are totally over the top in a bad way, but what’s the big deal?
It’s an almost impossible separation to make. An artist could put out generic —albeit catchy— radio hits that scream “SEX SEX SEX,” because they compromised their creative values or listened to “the man” or wanted more widespread fame. Or perhaps that artist decided to go for the top 40 just because that’s what they felt like doing at the time and they have the recognizability to do so.
Regardless of where Lovato and Jonas lie on that spectrum, Jonas’ “Bacon” and lyrics, like those of “Cool for the Summer,” just simply aren’t very good. They’re nothing special.
Lovato seemed to know that her strongest work isn’t necessarily her newest, and gave the crowd what they really wanted. Surprisingly but not disappointingly, she only played a few songs from her newest album, “Confident,” mainly hitting the singles. She dipped into her strong catalog of music, pulling out hits like “Heart Attack,” “Give Your Heart A Break” and “Skyscraper” from previous albums. Consistent with when she performed at Nationwide Arena in March of 2014, Lovato is one of the best live acts vocally that I have seen.
The pair seemed to be having a good time in their shared moments onstage, and it was awesome that they have such a long history of friendship. I have to wonder, however, how choreographed the statements about the 10 years of friendship and onstage hugs are. I imagine it would feel like a routine and lose its genuineness after a while, and that’s what showed on the stage Wednesday night.
Lovato and Jonas have each made some unspecial music recently. Lovato simply had a stronger career discography than Jonas and was able to rely on that where Jonas’ cookie-cutter music fell flat.