Following his most recent LP, 2016’s Last Year Was Complicated, Nick Jonas re-joined forces with siblings Kevin and Joe, reviving the nostalgic Jonas Brothers band after a six year hiatus, with Happiness Begins. This turned out to be a massively successful endeavor that saw him and his two brothers atop the US Billboard 200 album’s chart after their first release in almost a decade. Coming into 2021, however, Jonas had a lot to prove.
The singer announced via social media earlier this month that his fourth studio album, Spaceman, would be released later this year following the titular lead single, and would be his first solo project in five years. This set a high bar for Jonas, specifically to prove that he could still deliver outside the wide shadow cast by the Jonas Brothers group.
At first, Jonas’ lead single admittedly fades into the background. Its distorted drums and R&B flow feel all too synonymous with everything pop music has been producing for the past handful of years — making the track almost indistinguishable. While this does indeed hold true on first listen, it quickly unravels on second and third.
A careful dive into the language employed by “Spaceman” reveals there’s much more here than meets the eye. Lines like “TV tells me what to think/ Bad news, maybe I should drink” are so camouflaged by pop monotony that their genius is easily overlooked. This is actually true of most lines on “Spaceman,” which is unwittingly composed of varying thoughtful and timely themes. Jonas can be heard lamenting about the struggles of living during the COVID-19 pandemic, emphasizing the social fragility and sheer loneliness that quarantine has imposed on him.
His feelings are further contextualized within current political and social turmoil, expressing a personal viewpoint regarding the mental effects of such chaos. This intermixture of hyper-modern issues gives “Spaceman” a lyrical tone that is emotional, perplexing and relatable all at the same time. Clever lyricism layers Jonas’ thoughts in a manner that is impressive and thought-provoking, forcing the listener to reflect on the world we live in, a task often too difficult to engage in alone.
Lyrically, this is Jonas at his absolute best. With this track, he proves a crucial fact about pop music that many in the industry strive to avoid: pop can be real. This is a trend that has been popping up more amid the pandemic, but here Jonas bottles it with pinpoint accuracy.
The real cleverness in what Jonas has created with “Spaceman” is the complex and contextualized commentary on personal struggle wrapped in an easily digestible pop tune. Behind all the familiar pop production, “Spaceman” is a track that considers some of the most challenging social paradigms that exist today. Whether its sonic generality is intentional or not, the song as a whole functions in increasingly interesting ways because of it, and naturally serves as an anthem for society’s collective plea for a brighter future.