Given her promotion to the Paula Abdul seat on American Idol, there’s a distinct irony in having the first sounds on Jennifer Lopez's Love? all twisted through a vocoder: she may be judging the pop purity of legions of hopeful singers, but even she can’t resist the siren call of the computer. Of course, Lopez was never, ever about singing; she was about style, particularly the kind that passes for fashionable at glitzy high-rise discos. She was lucky enough to launch her career at the turn of the millennium, when it was still possible to have big dance crossover hits, but as her career marched on, the beats took prominence over the melody, a particular problem considering how slight Lopez’s voice is. She’s sweet enough a presence, but she needs powerful hooks to cut through the gloss, which she by and large doesn’t do on Love? Instead of being a return to the high-glitz pizzazz of “Love Don’t Cost a Thing,” this is pop in form only, never quite mustering up the energy to be infectious, never having a hook to drag a listener into its orbit, so listless that neither Lil Wayne nor Pitbull can drag it into focus. It’s high-sheen wallpaper, so flimsy that it peels away immediately after application.
by Stephen Thomas Erlewine