In Tel Aviv, J. Lo Reminds Everyone That She Was Twerking Long Before Beyonce

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Jennifer Lopez performs at Hayarkon Park, Tel Aviv, August 1, 2019.
Jennifer Lopez performs at Hayarkon Park, Tel Aviv, August 1, 2019. Credit: Tomer Appelbaum

Jennifer Lopez showered the tens of thousands of people who came to Tel Aviv’s Hayarkon Park on Thursday night with words of thanks and love. At one point she said she was grateful for all the times they had defended her when people spoke badly of her. For a moment I felt uncomfortable. I don’t remember ever coming to the defense of J. Lo when someone denigrated her. On the other hand, I can’t remember when I last heard anyone talking about J. Lo at all, either positively or negatively, at least until the news came that she was about to perform in Israel.

But even if Lopez isn’t the hottest name in the pop market, masses of people attended her concert yesterday. According to the producers, over 50,000 people came to the park. There are several reasons for her power of attraction: first and foremost, the years when she was a really hot pop star, from the late 1990s until the middle of the last decade. People remember her hits, love them and miss them (and the people they were 15 to 20 years ago).

In addition, J. Lo has a very high celebrity profile. And the Latin factor also works to her advantage. Latin pop has flourished tremendously in recent years. It’s impossible to imagine contemporary pop without taking into account Latin music. As one of the key figures in Latin pop before she became so successful, J. Lo has a right to hitch herself to the speeding train.

J. Lo was before her time in terms of another very strong pop trend in recent years – the twerk, which involves hip thrusts and shaking one’s buttocks. She was there even before Beyonce, and she continues to do it even now, when she is celebrating her 50th birthday (which took place a week before the concert, but J. Lo spoke as though it had been the night before).

Jennifer Lopez in Tel Aviv. Credit: Tomer Appelbaum

“This is my birthday suit,” she laughed at the start of the performance, when she wore a tight-fitting, glittering outfit that covered only part of her posterior. “You’re getting only one cheek,” she said.

The amount of time when she stood and danced with her back to us was about equal to amount of time when she faced us. Had it been anyone else, people would already be saying that it’s not polite. On the other hand, the list of songs sent to reporters at the end of the performance noted, “The sexy burlesque part was omitted!!” It’s a shame they didn’t omit instead the boring part called “Inspirational Party,” in which J. Lo showered us with terribly clichéd maxims of empowerment.

The “Inspirational Party” was one of several secondary parties composing “It’s My Party” – the name of the concert as a whole. There was a hip-hop party and a punk party and a Latin party and an ADM (Spanish for OMG) party. Between the parties J. Lo left the stage, the dancers danced, the MC shouted, the DJ played contemporary hits, and then J. Lo came back and went on to the next party.

Jennifer Lopez performs at Hayarkon Park, Tel Aviv, August 1, 2019. Credit: Tomer Appelbaum

This modular structure strengthened the engineered aspect of the show, which from the start was clearly going to be prominent. Spontaneity, an integral part of a genuine expression of emotion, does not typify mass pop performances, and J. Lo didn’t deviate from the customary practice in the genre.

On the other hand, despite the industrial nature of the music and the performance, J. Lo sang not badly, although she made massive use of her backup singers. For some reason she didn’t sing “If You Had My Love,” her breakthrough hit, and probably her best song. Nor was there an encore. Exactly an hour and a half.

Fans attend Jennifer Lopez's concert in Tel Aviv, August 1, 2019. Credit: Tomer Appelbaum

As I was leaving, I tried to find people who would say negative things about the concert, so I’d have a chance to atone for my behavior over the years. I didn’t find any. “A dream,” said someone. “Anyone who didn’t come missed out,” said the woman with him. “In terms of entertainment, it was the best there’s been here,” said a third woman. Nobody had anything bad to say about J. Lo and her show. Not that I know what I would have said had I found someone like that.

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