JoJo Siwa’s Original ‘Karma’ Singer Goes Viral and Climbs the Charts – Forbes

JoJo Siwa’s Original ‘Karma’ Singer Goes Viral and Climbs the Charts – Forbes

Top line

Days after former “Dance Moms” and Nickelodeon star JoJo Siwa released her single “Karma” in an effort to transition to a more mature image, a 2012 recording of the same track by the largely unknown artist Brit Smith went viral on TikTok, prompting Smith to release her version and earning Smith a higher rank on the iTunes chart than Siwa.


JoJo Siwa released her single “Karma” on April 5 and received generally negative critical reception after teasing for weeks that her image, once aimed at younger audiences, would shift toward a more mature approach.

Days after the release of Siwa’s single, clips of the previously unreleased music video from former singer Brit Smith’s 2012 recording of the song went viral on TikTok, with some garnering millions of likes and many commenters praising the vision by Smith on the song.

The song was written by Rock Mafia, a songwriting and production duo, and Smith’s version of the track was produced by Timbaland, who also starred in its unreleased video.

Smith told Page Six that she wanted “Karma” to be her first single, but her label Interscope Records instead wanted to release her 2013 song “Provocative” with a feature and a music video featuring starring Betty. White, although the song failed to chart.

As of Monday afternoon, Smith’s recording of the song (released as “Karma’s a Bitch”) was at No. 8 on the US iTunes pop charts, while Siwa’s “Karma” was at No. 89.


Siwa told TMZ she didn’t know who Smith was and denied claims from social media users that she “stole” Smith’s song, saying it’s not uncommon for songs to be passed around to other artists before being published.

Surprising fact

Smith told Page Six that Rock Mafia originally wrote “Karma” with Miley Cyrus in mind, but she passed on it. Some social media users had also speculated that “Karma” was intended for Cyrus, based on an exchange between Cyrus and Rock Mafia on X in 2012, in which the latter used the hashtag #karmasabitch.


Siwa also attracted controversy during the launch of “Karma” for saying in an interview with Billboard that she wanted to “start a new genre of music” called “gay pop”, citing Miley Cyrus and Lady Gaga as influences for her new musical direction. Musical duo Tegan and Sara, openly gay twin sisters who have been releasing music since 1999, stitched together a TikTok of Siwa’s Billboard interview, in which they stared silently at the camera before smirking. “These gay popstars love Jojo,” they captioned the video. Out Magazine has published a list, “as part of our love for Siwa”, ranking 25 of the best “gay pop” songs from the 1970s to the present. Siwa clarified to TMZ that she didn’t want to imply that she created the genre, saying, “I’m definitely not the inventor of gay pop, of course not. But I want to help make it more bigger than it already is.

Key context

Siwa released “Karma” earlier this month, admitting the single was an attempt to shed her former child star image. She rose to fame as a dancer on the reality TV show “Dance Moms” and signed a deal with Nickelodeon in 2017 that allowed Siwa to star in several Nickelodeon projects and the network to use her for programs live. Siwa had already ventured into music with her single “Boomerang” in 2016, which has nearly a billion views on YouTube. His name change to “Karma” was widely criticized by critics and social media users. Vulture criticized the single’s “faux-edgy lyrics, delivered with all the conviction of the elementary school students who were once its fans.” Rolling Stone criticized Siwa as “trying too hard to shock us”, dismissing her self-made comparisons to Cyrus. “Karma” went viral on TikTok, in part because Siwa constantly promoted the song to her 45 million TikTok followers, but most of the top comments on Siwa’s videos are critical of the song.

Further reading

JoJo Siwa is growing up (or trying to.) (New York Times)

No, JoJo Siwa doesn’t think she invented ‘Gay Pop’ – but she’d like to be the ‘CMO’ (Billboard)

Why Fans Think JoJo Siwa’s New Single “Karma” Is An Abandoned Miley Cyrus Demo (People)


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