The enduring power of J.Lo: How Jennifer Lopez marks our lives then … and now

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Jennifer Lopez knows really to drawback our attention.

Her latest project, an album and accompanying philharmonic film titled “This is Me… Now," has been some praised and criticized, pinch galore successful betwixt trying to understand what Lopez’s latest creator endeavor moreover means.

Yet nan myriad reactions dissecting nan task each constituent to 1 cardinal fact. Like it aliases not, we're talking astir J.Lo.

“She’s an anomaly,” civilization professional Jack Rico told NBC News. "Today, I don’t deliberation it’s imaginable to afloat comprehend and grasp really typical Jennifer Lopez is ... She should beryllium a lawsuit study, nan aforesaid measurement we person assemblage classes for Bad Bunny or Taylor Swift.”

In a way, nan Lopez enigma is astatine nan halfway of her enduring powerfulness arsenic personification who marked a procreation of millennials — particularly Latino millennials for illustration me.

Jennifer Lopez attends nan Valentino Haute Couture Spring/Summer 2024  show successful Paris.J.Lo should beryllium a lawsuit study, says Rico, "the aforesaid measurement we person assemblage classes for Bad Bunny aliases Taylor Swift." Pascal Le Segretain / Getty Images

Lopez has “cracked each of nan walls and barriers” nine placed connected her and much broadly places connected Latinos, connected women and connected group complete 50, Rico said. “She’s a defiance.”

People my property don’t retrieve a clip erstwhile Lopez wasn’t a large woody — mounting trends pinch her euphony and creation moves, her acting performances and her manner choices.

Lopez has worked consistently done nan years — she has starred successful complete 35 movies, released 9 workplace albums, produced and appeared successful countless TV shows, published a memoir, completed a residency successful Las Vegas and a world tour.

Jennifer Lopez successful a greenish Versace dress astatine nan 42nd Annual GRAMMY AwardsJ.Lo's iconic greenish Versace dress astatine nan 2000 Grammys reddish carpet collapsed nan net — and led to Google images. Getty Images

She besides became a manner icon pursuing her reddish carpet quality successful 2000 wearing a show-stopping greenish Versace dress that inspired nan creation of Google images.

And those not acquainted pinch her trajectory astir apt cognize of Lopez from her highly publicized drawstring of romances and marriages.

So what has she done lately? She spent $20 cardinal of her ain money successful a multimedia task that leans into her emotion life, her way.

In “This Is Me... Now,” Lopez takes her sometimes questionable and moreover eye-rolling relationships and shines connected them a spotlight fewer artists astatine her level would situation to do, focusing chiefly connected her rekindled romance pinch now-husband character Ben Affleck. The result? She sewage our attraction — and sewage a batch of critics and fans talking astir it.

Taking her drawstring of romances — and owning it

Lopez has said her latest task is her "most honest" 1 yet, though fans and detractors opportunity she held backmost connected nan taxable of relationships and her tumultuous way to self-love.

The medium sounds for illustration a philharmonic clip capsule encompassing her 25-year euphony profession and her lifelong hunt for her sound and creator identity.

The movie is not rather conceptual nor wholly abstract, but thing successful between, mixing lighthearted and introspective moments to return america connected her travel to ... yes, love.

 A Love Story"With nan caller statement complete her latest medium and movie, Lopez is still shifting and influencing popular culture. Getty Images

In my view, what “This Is Me... Now” does efficaciously is showcase Lopez’s assurance arsenic a triple-threat performer: singer, dancer and actor.

While her latest activity reminded group for illustration maine of her unmatched talent, immoderate opportunity it was a missed opportunity for nan 54-year-old to unfastened up astatine a much individual level, distancing herself from her performer persona and showing disconnected a much vulnerable, different side. 

“The point astir Jennifer, and I deliberation this is wherever a batch of nan disapproval is coming from, is that she has not been capable to evolve,” Rico said. “You can’t get bigger than what she has done, and I deliberation there’s a portion of her that is like, ‘How do I apical myself?’”

Yet nan caller statement proves that Lopez remains applicable — and is still shifting and influencing American popular culture.

My life's soundtrack

Because “This Is Me... Now” serves arsenic a bookend to her 2002 workplace medium “This Is Me… Then” — inspired by Lopez’s first engagement to Affleck and eventual breakup — it’s making galore of america revisit our ain memories of increasing up pinch Lopez.

Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez stepping done Beverly HillsLopez leaned into her much-discussed and dissected emotion life and made it nan attraction of her latest project.Getty Images

I can't show you precisely erstwhile I first heard Lopez’s 1999 debut single, “If You Had My Love.” I conscionable cognize I've ever known it. The opus catapulted Lopez’s euphony profession pursuing her breakout performance arsenic nan slain “Queen of Tejano Music” Selena Quintanilla successful nan 1997 movie “Selena,” which turned her into a Hollywood movie prima and helped cement Selena's philharmonic bequest to a younger procreation for illustration me.

Lopez past established herself arsenic a mega popular prima pinch iconic euphony videos and hits for illustration “Let’s Get Loud” and “Waiting for Tonight" from her debut medium “On The 6.”

The first medium I ever owned was nan Backstreet Boys’ 1999 medium “Millenium” — who didn't succumb to nan boy set craze of nan 1990s? But nan 1 I cherished astir was Lopez’s 2001 medium “J.Lo.”

At 7, I utilized crayons to explanation my "J.Lo" medium pinch my sanction successful lawsuit I mislaid it while taking it everyplace successful my portable CD player. I couldn't understand overmuch of nan lyrics because I only said Spanish, but I retrieve imitating Lopez while dancing to her popular tracks mixed pinch Y2K era physics sounds, R&B, hip-hop and Latin euphony influences.

JLO CD wrong of a lawsuit Jennifer Lopez’s 2001 medium “J.Lo,” branded successful crayons, was a individual favorite. Courtesy Nicole Acevedo

The “J.Lo” medium debuted astatine No. 1. That aforesaid week, Lopez starred successful nan romanticist drama “The Wedding Planner” — which topped nan container office.

“When she has nan No. 1 record, and nan No. 1 movie astatine nan nonstop aforesaid clip for each wide audiences, it’s thing short of a miracle,” Rico said. In fact, nan milestone made Lopez nan first woman to simultaneously person a apical movie and medium connected opening week.

As a kid who loved performing and erstwhile aspired to beryllium a dancer, seeing a chap Puerto Rican win astatine this epic standard gave maine assurance successful my ain personality from a very young age.

An icon from nan Latin euphony 'explosion'

Lopez achieved superstar position alongside a fewer different artists of Hispanic descent who reached world occurrence during nan Latin euphony detonation of nan precocious 1990s and early 2000s.

If location was a Mount Rushmore for nan Latin explosion, nan faces of Lopez, Ricky Martin, Marc Anthony and Shakira would beryllium carved successful it — and possibly Christina Aguilera, who is Ecuadorian American, and Enrique Iglesias, a Hispanic from Spain, if we had much space.

Growing up astatine this time, I thought it was ever this way. But arsenic an adult, I realized it was mostly a circumstantial play successful popular culture.

Decades later, Lopez and Shakira reignited this history during their record-breaking 2020 Super Bowl Halftime performance, featuring Bad Bunny and J Balvin, 2 large faces of nan new Latin euphony boom dominated by reggaeton music.

Jennifer Lopez performs astatine Super Bowl LIV Jennifer Lopez' and Shakira's 2020 Super Bowl Halftime show collapsed video viewing records.Getty Images

"The Super Bowl was a very revealing Jennifer Lopez moment," Leila Cobo, Billboard’s main contented serviceman of Latin, told nan Pop Pantheon podcast connected August 2023. "It showed why she still matters.”

Lopez, a U.S.-born Latina, is inherently bicultural. Her innate code-switching abilities has helped her go a people shapeshifting entertainer, a unsocial value that's kept her successful nan popular civilization zeitgeist for astir 3 decades.

“She tin beryllium 40. She tin beryllium 50. She tin beryllium 85. And she still tin propulsion that off," Cobo said. "Not very galore group tin do that ... This is not simply personification who’s present for celebrity. I deliberation she wants to transcend that."

J.Lo's — and my — full-circle moment

I nary longer bargain J.Lo CDs and people them pinch a crayon. But listening to "This Is Me... Now" made maine deliberation astir my ain way to self-acceptance and yes, uncovering emotion on nan way.

I still tease my mother for not taking maine to Lopez’s 2001 performance successful Puerto Rico, wherever I lived arsenic a child, because I was excessively young. She promised she would return maine nan adjacent clip Lopez had a performance successful my homeland, but that was nan only show Lopez ever did there. For years, my consolation prize was endlessly rewatching nan DVD type of nan 2001 performance I sewage arsenic a Three Kings Day gift.

Jennifer Lopez performs "This Is Me Now" astatine SNL Jennifer Lopez sings "This Is Me... Now" connected Saturday Night Live, making immoderate of america millennials bespeak connected wherever we're now, from erstwhile we first listened to J.Lo.Getty Images

But I sewage a 2nd chance.

I was precocious listening to nan caller album, wherever songs for illustration “Can’t Get Enough” fto maine bask successful nan joyousness of being a newlywed, and wherever “Rebound” and “Broken Like Me” make maine bespeak connected really acold I’ve come, and I told my hubby astir really I still dreamed of seeing Lopez successful concert.

He past amazed maine with tickets to 1 of Lopez's shows successful New York City, wherever I now live, to observe my 30th day this summer.

You could opportunity nan full-circle infinitesimal shows really Lopez marked my life past … and now.

That's a beautiful singular travel for Jenny from nan Block.

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Nicole Acevedo

Nicole Acevedo is simply a newsman for NBC News Digital. She reports, writes and produces stories for NBC Latino and NBCNews.com.