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Song’s Original Singer Is Going Viral


From her new “Karma” music video to her getup at the iHeartRadio Music Awards, it’s clear JoJo Siwa is signaling a new era.

The former “Dance Moms” star appeared to unveil her rebrand on March 5, when she uploaded a series of behind-the-scenes photos from dance rehearsals for an upcoming project.

The captions from the nine posts formed a message that read, “See you in one month. Remember Karma’s a b—-.”

The transformation kicked off in full force on April 5 with the release of her new song, “Karma,” and its accompanying dramatic music video. The video has racked up over 20 million views on YouTube.

During her press tour for “Karma,” Siwa has opened up about why she used the track to launch an edgier image. 

Her comments about the song have sparked controversy, causing snippets of her interviews to go viral. Fans have also flooded her comments with theories that “Karma” was originally meant for other artists and that she has been pretending she wrote the song.

So what’s the truth? Read on to learn all about the controversy surrounding Siwa and her single “Karma.” 

What is ‘Karma’?

After weeks of teasing her track “Karma,” the song finally arrived on April 5, with daring lyrics and a sultry music video. In it, she tangles and almost kisses a series of women.

“I was a bad girl / I did some bad things,” Siwa sings as the song begins. 

When she reaches the chorus, she roars, “Karma’s a b—-, I should’ve known better/

If I had a wish, I would’ve never effed around/ When I saw the pics of you and her, I fеlt the knife twist/ Karma’s a bitch, and she’s with you right now.” 

The lyrics are an abrupt departure from Siwa’s previous upbeat pop tracks, like “Boomerang” and “Bop!” 

The music video also saw her donning the same Kiss-style eye makeup and mesh leather one-piece that she wore at the iHeartRadio Music Awards — a signal that her bright neon wardrobe and signature ponytail are long gone. 

2024 iHeartRadio Music Awards - Arrivals
JoJo Siwa attended the 2024 iHeartRadio Music Awards on April 1 wearing makeup and an outfit identical to one of her looks in the “Karma” music video. Gilbert Flores / Billboard via Getty Images

What has JoJo Siwa said about ‘Karma’?

Siwa spoke about the sudden change in her music style and fashion in an interview with Billboard about the song. 

“I wanted it to be as bold and as ballsy as possible. There is nothing more ballsy than this song,” the 20-year-old said.

When asked to describe her current sound, Siwa replied, “The genre is — I said it back in the day when I first signed with Columbia. I said, ‘I want to start a new genre of music.’ And they said, ‘What do you mean?’ And I said well, ‘It’s called gay pop.’”

The “Dance Moms” alum came out as a member of the LGBTQ community in 2021 and has had a few public relationships and breakups since then. 

She told Billboard that her new current music is similar to jazz funk, which combines different genres. She also listed songs like “Applause” by Lady Gaga and Miley Cyrus tracks “On My Own” and “Can’t Be Tamed” as some of her inspirations. 

Although she mentioned Lady Gaga repeatedly, she revealed that Cyrus was her biggest influence because they both had to navigate evolving from a child star into an adult.

“It’s no secret that my transition is heavily inspired by Miley Cyrus, of course,” she said. Siwa recalled Cyrus’ divisive “Bangerz” era when she made headlines for her risqué 2013 Video Music Awards performance with Robin Thicke. 

“Like it or not, everyone knows that moment and I think that that made such an impact,” Siwa continued. “I think every child star has made their impact in some which way becoming an adult star. But Miley’s flip, Miley’s switch, Miley’s turn was the greatest thing I’ve witnessed with my own two eyes.”

Siwa hoped to have a similar cultural moment with “Karma.” In another interview with Billboard where she explained how the song and music video came together, she shared her ultimate goal with her new era. 

“I think the biggest thing about this video (is) I don’t care if people like it. I don’t care if people hate it. But I want people to turn their head at it and I want people to notice it and I want people to say, ‘Oh s—, she did that,’” she said. 

What is the ‘Karma’ songwriting controversy?

Amid “Karma’s” release, people are scrutinizing the song’s origin story.

In her interview with Billboard for its recent “How It Went Down” episode, Siwa said that she had been working on “Karma” for years.

“Originally, I was scared of this song. I was 18 years old. I didn’t want to say ‘b—-’ I didn’t want to say ‘I was a bad girl’ because I wasn’t a bad girl. So then, we did some versions of the song,” she recalled. 

She said that she recorded six versions of “Karma” and that the first one was a “whole different song” with another bridge. Siwa described the collaboration process and said it was “the goal” to make the track sound like it was from 2010.

Siwa didn’t take credit for penning “Karma” in the episode. 

“The ‘Karma’ music video is actually more my baby than the ‘Karma’ song itself,” she shared, adding that she thought of the video concept two years ago.

Online, people investigated the song’s pop culture origins. A TikTok user uploaded a video pointing out the production team behind “Karma” was linked to Cyrus. 

As the video mentions, the credits for “Karma” listed on Spotify include songwriters Antonina Armato, Tim James and Desmond Child. The track was produced by Rock Mafia, a production team consisting of Armato and James. 

Armato collaborated with Cyrus in the early 2010s, helping write and produce the singles “See You Again,” “7 Things” and “Fly on the Wall.” James also co-wrote “See You Again.”

Another musician was previously attached to “Karma” as well: singer-songwriter Brit Smith. 

Smith addressed the rumors in an interview with Page Six on April 12, confirming she recorded the song in 2012. Previously unreleased, Smith released the song amid the “Karma” chatter.

“It’s a shock to me that it’s got a new life, which is amazing,” she said. “But yeah, with Rock Mafia back in the day it was supposed to be my first single and sort of things changed and I went with ‘Provocative’ instead and shouldn’t have done that really. We should’ve gone with ‘Karma.’ That was my first choice but label things got in the way and I kind of was led in that direction and we went with ‘Provocative.’ 

“And then I left the industry after that. And so it hasn’t seen the light of day until now,” she added. 

Smith also remembered the song being “written with Miley Cyrus in mind.” has reached out to Rock Mafia for comment and has not heard back at the time of publication.

Smith was flattered that some fans said they preferred her version of “Karma.”

“That’s very nice of them to say,” she said. “I feel like it’s just a testament to how strong the song is itself that it stood the test of time twelve years later, and I’m just happy that people are hearing it and liking it.”

She added that it was “nice to hear” Siwa’s take on the song. 

Smith’s version of “Karma” sits at number three of the top iTunes pop songs (USA), whereas Siwa’s is at 64, as of April 16.

What are fans saying

Siwa has been continuously promoting “Karma” on social media and celebrating the amount of views on YouTube. But she has faced backlash. Her Instagram post on April 12 featured a recap of her release week was filled with messages from critics labeling the song as a “cover.”

“You ever going to admit this is a cover song or???” one asked. 

Another said, “Imagine saying a cover is your own song.” 

But, some fans chimed in to support her. 

“She never claimed to write it y’all, artists do covers all the time. Yall are just hating to hate now,” one wrote.  

One Instagram user said the situation was being blown out of proportion. “These comments are awful. There are plenty of artists that don’t write all of the songs. I mean tons big stars. Calm down,” she said. has reached out to Siwa for comment and hasn’t heard back at the time of publication.

Siwa doesn’t seem to be bothered by the controversy. She uploaded videos April 14 to her Instagram story from her performance of “Karma” at Miami Beach Pride. The television personality is also busy being a judge on “So You Think You Can Dance” Season 18, which is currently airing. 


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