Monday, December 16th, 2019

Sho Madjozi – John Cena

This comes to as a suggestion from Ian, which means… LET’S GET READY TO READERS’ WEEK!


Ian Lefkowitz: After a string of hits produced with an eye toward breaking her internationally, it’s starting to look like this comparatively tossed-off loose single is going to seal the deal for Sho Madjozi’s stardom through a series of increasingly awkward daytime TV appearances with the square-jawed babyface himself. This song is built for virality, though. More than anything, it reminds me of how I felt about “212” back before the world came quickly for Azealia Banks. The two songs share a buoyancy and glide, rebellion served with a studied smile. The best moments here are in the margins, where Sho Madjozi cracks herself up with her own swagger. It’s a song that conveys liberation theology through the act of believing in yourself enough to take up space in the world.

Kylo Nocom: COLORS Performances have been the way to find international artists on the precipice of blowing up. Some of them are low-tier bores, a bunch are kind of pointless, but there’s enough videos brilliant enough to justify the platform’s existence. Sho Madjozi gave the COLORS stage exactly the kind of energy it deserves by treating the monochromatic room as her own personal playground, rapping and dancing her ass off until she enters a laughing fit. Tboy Daflame’s rhythmically frantic production somehow pulls off so much while still allowing space for Sho to taunt and tease; seriously, “on the same line, why you pressin’ enter though?” earns nearly every point I’m giving this. It feels weird to say that, even though the studio recording delivers pretty much all of the original’s essence, it’s probably the least exciting way to experience this song. Just look at how many people went crazy with it having just the COLORS performance! See how many reaction videos there are! John Cena himself appeared on the Kelly Clarkson show last month just to freak her out! The evidence all adds up to confirm my theory that “John Cena” is a [10] only while seeing other people smiling; as a normal song, it’s still more actual personality on wax than what we ended up getting from the Lizzo album.

Kayla Beardslee: The beat stutters and skips with vigor, and Sho Madjozi’s enthusiasm is contagious. I’m generally not a fan of songs that use contemporary celebrity figures as cheesy hooks, but as the name is repeated more and more, the exaggerated inflection of “John CE-na” starts to feel more important than its meaning anyways.

Edward Okulicz: Name-checking a famous person and making a dance craze is sure a cheap way to get your song out there. But it’s not as cheap as the average marketing campaign for a high-profile pop star, and “John Cena” is a lot more fun than average. It must take some skill to take basically every other beat preset, throw on some whistles and make it sound cool and kinetic — and to top it all off Sho Madjozi is cool in three languages. I’d slept on this but it really must have brightened up the year for a lot of people. As a vehicle for happiness, this gets all the points in the known universe, and if the song isn’t quite as good in isolation, that’s no shame, because nothing could be.

Will Adams: “Now you wanna act tough like John Cena” is a hook for the ages. What the song lacks in structure it makes up for with Sho’s relentless energy, with a percolating, whistle-blowing track keeping up the pace.

Alfred Soto: The percussion’s the star: hot stepping gut punches suitable for the parade ground, futbol game, or concert venue. The wrestler should be proud.

Nortey Dowuona: A strumming drum bounces in the corner, while menacing VHS synths hover and drunken synths stumble around and a swaying synth lamp shakes back and forth. Sho cheerfully wraps the floor while standing on the mass of bass as worm synths blow whistles and cheering percussion bangs on the window.

Reader average: [5] (6 votes)

Vote: 0   1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10

2 Responses to “Sho Madjozi – John Cena”

  1. “212” comparison is spot on, thought abt that while blurbing

  2. All I ever wanted in life was to make the Singles Jukebox sidebar. Thanks, y’all–both for the year of music and taking the submission. (Also, thanks to Kylo for the extra background about COLORS, that last link is a banger.) Happy holidays!