Artist Spotlight: Jack Johnson

by Madelyn Young '25 on April 8, 2023
A&E Staff

Arts & Entertainment

When I ask people if they listen to Jack Johnson, their immediate response usually has something to do with the Curious George movie. While he was responsible for the classic 2006 song, “Upside Down,” Johnson has been pretty busy since then. 

In fact, the singer and songwriter has released 10 albums since his debut (Brushfire Fairytales) in 2001. Probably his most well-known album is his 2005 In Between Dreams, which includes songs like “Better Together” and “Banana Pancakes.” Most of the other songs in this album are just as upbeat and positive as these two, making it a perfect addition to any springtime playlist. 

A personal favorite is From Here To Now To You, which was released in 2013. It is easy to see why this album wasn’t as popular when it came out, considering that 2013 was the prime of artists such as One Direction and Miley Cyrus. This album, however, offers a very different style than 2010s pop with songs like “I Got You” and “Tape Deck,” in which Johnson recounts stories about his upbringing in Hawaii. In fact, many of his songs reveal personal accounts about his life, including his relationships with his wife (“Do You Remember”) and his children (“You Remind Me of You”). 

While the instrumental aspect of his music is amazing itself, the lyrics are often what draw people in. My favorite example of this is “Inaudible Melodies” from his first album. He even makes a reference to Plato’s Allegory of the Cave (Civ throwback!) to make a point about the way people take in information. 

Johnson’s most recent album was Meet the Moonlight, which came out in early 2022. In my opinion, this was a big shift from his previous albums in terms of the style. When the single by the same name came out, I was expecting a fast-paced and upbeat song, but was instead met with a mellow, slow song. However, this song set the stage perfectly for the rest of the album. While there are a few faster ones such as “3AM Radio” and “Don’t Look Now,” the majority of the album is composed of songs very similar to “Meet the Moonlight.” This was a great change of pace and something that stood out to fans, especially because it had been five years since his last album was released. 

During the summer of 2022, Johnson went on tour, and I was fortunate enough to be one of the first people to hear his new album live! Hearing his songs in person was an incredible experience, and the concerts felt more like a relaxing guitar session with friends than an artist performing for a crowd. This mellow and positive feeling that his music exudes is what makes his work so unique. And, of course, it probably reminds everyone of the Curious George movie from our childhood. If you need a great addition to your spring and summer playlists, be sure to add some Jack Johnson songs!