It feels like a very long time since The Jonas Brothers were a big deal. Once an all-American, squeaky clean, purity-ring-wearing trio that couldn’t have been more Disney Channel if they’d been named Huey, Dewey and Louie, they’ve undergone a pretty major transition in the years since their heyday. Because in case you didn’t know, like Harry Potter and Macaulay Culkin, the Jonas bros are men now, actual adults who do sex and get it in the right hole and everything. They bait gays on the cover of Attitude and make raunchy music videos, make out with men on TV and, if you’re Joe, release singles with your new band featuring Nicki Minaj.
So what’s the deal with ‘Kissing Strangers’? Like their debut single, ‘Cake By The Ocean’, this is another light party anthem from DNCE, raunchy in the cleanest way possible, so much so that you can almost hear the inevitable Kidz Bop cover, renamed ‘Keeping An Appropriate Distance From Strangers’ or something equally ludicrous. Jonas sounds like every stoned red-cup-clutching frat boy as he groans the opening “eyyyyy” that’s exactly as annoying as it sounds, before slugging his way through a lacklustre verse that employs outdated mic affects making the track sound like the theme tune to a mid-noughties kids TV show starring Drake Bell.
‘Kissing Strangers’ revolves around a lazy na-na-na hook that has none of the cheesy-but-charming appeal of ‘Cake By The Ocean’, sounding slapdash and careless rather than funky and hip, surely the vibe DNCE are going for with their bass riffs and drum patterns. Seemingly knowing the track is lacking anything of any substance, DNCE enlist Nicki Minaj to give their dated track a modern edge, though she sounds largely out of place on a drab pop/rock track. That said, Minaj’s brief rap is the highlight of ‘Kissing Strangers’, her sharp tongue adding a bit of spice to a track that is largely lacking any flavour.
Jonas et al are lost at sea. Trying hard to make adult music and shake off the tween-star label that still follows him like an overzealous Camp Rock fan, Jonas has instead come up with a flimsy bit of fluff that flirts with something a little more risque but – Nicki interlude aside – remains in safe territory. While this isn’t such a big deal on its own, ‘Kissing Strangers’ still falls flat, lacking a memorable melody, a strong enough hook or a current sound – essentially, anything that makes for a good pop song.