Closer Look: Jesse J Has Arrived Duckie Blakney June 15, 2011 Columns 1 Jessie J has really got something in her album Who You Are, which dropped in late 2010 on Lava/ Universal Republic Records. I first got wind of the British diva earlier this year during some late night channel surfing; the station landed on SNL and Jessie was the performing guest. She had me hooked by the first note. The first credit I must give Ms. J is that she doesn’t use AutoTune when she performs. When I say ‘perform,’ I do not mean shaking and gyrating for the sake of sex appeal. Jessie J was letting the audience have it and you felt it through the screen. You saw the aggression on her face and she wasn’t afraid to be ugly if it got the song out. You saw the explosion happen inside her, going from a poised, rather statuesque brunette to a rock star by the time she reached the chorus of “Mama Knows Best.” The diversity of the tracks on Who You Are is refreshing as well. Though it sticks to a pop template for the most part, there are impressions of other genres that some may consider more refined. “Mama Knows Best,” for example, has a cabaret, hip-hop feel and yes, she does have a scat break, just to prove she also does jazz! The vintage sound with the modern spin shakes up the album and hints to the listener that Jessie knows what she’s singing about; it’s not a forced vocal display. It seems fun, spontaneous and the whimsy is welcome. Tracks like “Price Tag” and single “Do It Like A Dude” are the club bumpers that were needed to get mainstream attention. They have the ‘it’ quality; they get stuck in your head, the beat makes you dance and they are great roll-up-your-window-and-sing songs. The music video for “Do It Like A Dude” was no disappointment: hot girls looking tough. She does get a little racy in this video, but who doesn’t like it rough every once in a while? She is not afraid to be strong and rub it in your face. The power of confidence is something she has learned quite well. She is not allowing sex to be her only selling point. She doesn’t risk her musical performance for the sake of fancy footwork and she lets go on stage and has fun! Jessie’s voice brings the house down and the amount of energy she brings to the stage must be something to experience live. Where “Do It Like A Dude” brings the sex, “Price Tag” brings out J’s lighter, hopeful side. “We need to take it back in time/when music made us all unite,” are lyrics from the song where she talks about highbrow fashion and demeanors taking away from the joy of life. The pairing of that unmistakable ‘it’ factor and Jessie J’s formal training make her part of the next great British invasion. Born in 1988 as Jessica Ellen Cornish, Jessie attended The London School of Performing Arts and Technology (The BRIT School) with classmate, Adele, who would later bump Jessie from the top of the U.K. charts with her single “Someone Like You” from her album 21, released early 2011. While attending The BRIT School, Jessica was diagnosed with cardiovascular difficulties and was eventually hospitalized for surgery. Jessie reflects well on her poor health saying she now refrains from smoking and knows the importance of staying healthy. She also took the bump from the top spot with grace, giving props to Adele for first bringing her sound to the States. Jessie became a support singer in Cyndi Lauper’s 2008 U.K. tour. She went on to write songs for Chris Brown and Miley Cyrus. The girl has been around getting her music industry wits about her for quite some time so it’s safe to say she won’t be a here today, gone tomorrow act. I also stumbled upon a few pictures of the singer/songwriter with it-boy of the hour Drake. Perhaps a collaboration in the works? I’ll hold my breath and keep you posted on that one. Another admirable trait of Jessie is her pensiveness. “Nobody’s Perfect” is a thoughtful, coming of age song in the likes of John Mayer’s “My Stupid Mouth.” In it, she sings of lines being crossed and feeling the remorse for mistakes made. A good songwriter makes things relatable and she hit the nail on the head with this tack. The album, her image and personality are the total package. I like that her album leaflet has the lyrics stamped on the glossy; it feels nostalgic. Aesthetically, if Katy Perry, Lady Gaga and David Bowie gave all their good parts to make a pop diva (you can decide which parts), you would get Jessie J. She’s something fun to look at on stage. The couture adds an element of art and glamour to her otherwise raw presence. After trolling the Internet for videos, interviews and performances of Jessie I came to find her charismatic; the way she talks about music and the process of making music, putting together an album, performing, writing and what got her to this point is inspiring. To think the sickly, awkward girl would be one of the most powerful female vocalist of the last couple years with her single “Price Tag” going to number one on the U.K. charts and “Do It Like A Dude” going to number two. “Price Tag” peaked at number 23 on the U.S. charts. I’m excited to see what’s to come of Jessie’s career in the States. She just hit our airwaves this spring so we must wait to see if she goes viral. Do us a favor and update the iPod with a few singles from Who You Are and decide if she is what’s next in pop music. Jessie J is currently finishing up the leg of her East Coast tour where she performed at Radio City, on The View and So You Think You Can Dance before heading to the U.K. then Japan. So if you have any unused frequent flier points, now is the time to use them. Or you can get your Jessie J fix on YouTube or her official website, jessiejofficial.com, where you can get a bunch of digital goodies, merchandise and performances. One thing is for sure, on her next tour of the states, I will be the first one with my tickets pre-ordered because a show like this isn’t something I want to miss out on again. In a way, I’m hoping for Jessie J to take over the world so I can feel like I got the first glimpse of a dynasty that faithful night on SNL, the same way someone must have felt that winter in 1964 when four long hairs from over the pond took the stage of The Ed Sullivan Show as the musical guests: the world has never been the same. One Response Vernon M June 17, 2011 Duckie, I too channel-surfed into that appearance by Jessie J on SNL. Like you I was smitten. I’m 68 and have lost touch with popular music many years ago. I still feel shocked (in a good way) after seeing that performance. I agree with everything you said. If you and I were both affected that way, I’ll bet there are thousands of others. Jessie J is not just about the unbelievable voice. It’s the whole package. Her beauty, her realness, her energy, her attitude and, of course, those bangs. I agree, she is sooo unique I’m thinking she will occupy a place in pop music up there with Elvis or as you mentioned, the Beatles. I’m thinking of going to one of her concerts too. I hope I don’t stick out like a sore thumb but Jessie teaches we’ve got to lose that kind of self-consciousness. Thanks for saying all the things I was thinking. Cheers, Vernon Reply Leave a Reply Cancel Reply Your email address will not be published.CommentName* Email* Website Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.