Label: 88Rising Joji boasts one of the most unique paths to a successful music career in recent memory. Born George Miller in Japan, he rose to massive YouTube fame with edgy, provocative, and occasionally repulsive videos as the characters Filthy Frank and Pink Guy. All the while, he was tinkering behind the curtain with inky, alternative R&B. In 2017, he made the switch to “serious music” full time, and after dropping the bleak and bloody EP In Tongues, Joji has returned with BALLADS 1, his debut full-length. BALLADS 1 feels like his progression into adolescence, trying a slew of different vocal styles and soundscapes to figure out what fits him best. And he certainly shows enough to prove that he could make something close to classic with a few more reps. His new album under the name Joji might be evidence of one of the greatest transformations in modern pop culture. Ballads 1 is elegiac and prettily pout-faced; Miller used to make you cringe, Joji makes you cry.