July 19, 2004 12:00 PM

JoJo
POP

Thirteen-year-old JoJo (real name: Joanna Levesque) has clearly been studying her pop idols. She’s got Ashanti’s penchant for hip-hop soul, a dash of Pink’s attitude, and Christina Aguilera‘s knack for oversinging. On her self-titled debut, the Foxboro, Mass., native shows that although she may still be a little too young to play with the big girls, she’s no average JoJo. In fact, the hit single “Leave (Get Out)” is destined to be the breakup anthem of the summer. With its lilting guitars, stuttering midtempo groove and sassy girl-power lyrics, it’s one of the guiltiest pleasures on TRL right now. There are several other tracks here with the potential to follow “Leave” up the charts, including the partyjam “City Lights,” which recalls What’s the 411?-era Mary J. Blige, and the uplifting “Use My Shoulder.” However, JoJo has yet to really grow into her big voice. Her showy, strained melisma on routine numbers like “Sunshine,” one of three tunes she had a hand in writing, sounds as if she’s auditioning for American Idol. (She actually competed on the TV show America’s Most Talented Kids.) This diva-in-training will need to tone it down before she graduates to the next level.

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