Dubbed the ‘best singer in the world ‘ in 2009 by none other than Justin Timberlake, Jessie J first caught my attention by a friend introducing me to her YouTube channel the following year (where Jessie J posted under her real name Jessica Cornish). I first witnessed Jessie’s talent through her song ‘Mama Knows Best’ (which is featured on her debut album ‘Who You Are’). I was blown away and therefore extremely pleased to hear that that she had been signed to Island Records meaning her talent would be further recognised.
From that moment on it seemed as those every radio station was playing her debut single ‘Do It Like A Dude’. I definitely wasn’t complaining. ‘Do It Like A Dude’ can be argued to have resonated with both female and gay listeners because as Jessie put it, it was a ‘middle finger to the industry’. Oh, and maybe because the video is made up of ONLY women and girls just happen to kiss in it…
‘I can do it like a brother – do it like a dude
Grab my crotch wear my hat low like you
Do it like a brother – do it like a dude
Grab my crotch, wear my hat low like you’
Jessie’s message is clear- she’s not going to resign herself and her music to a specific genre or look just because the music industry and society are so used to seeing female and male artists portrayed in certain ways. Though some may not be a fan of the song, find the overuse of the word ‘mandem’ a
little cringey- how can you argue with such a brave first effort?
As soon as ‘Who You Are’ was released, I made sure I had it. I was definitely excited to hear what else Jessie J had in store after ‘Do It Like A Dude’ and the equally successful ‘Price Tag’ that followed.
I hasten to add. I was a little disappointed.
Whilst I cannot fault Jessie on her voice, the album just seemed a bit jumbled. The songs that had been chosen for ‘Who You Are’ seemed a little random and I have to admit my face collapsed into a painful cringe at some of the lyrics.
My least favourite songs from the album are ‘Stand Up’ and ‘Who’s Laughing Now’. In ‘Stand Up’, Jessie appears to channel a quasi-reggae-style of which are interrupted only with periods of spoken word. The song is uplifting and kind of sweet but so disappointing from such a talented artist. ‘Who’s Laughing Now’ is the weakest song on the album without a doubt. Whilst I appreciated the theme- having the last laugh on those who made life hard for you in the past, it sounded like Jessie was trying to channel Lady Sovereign and whilst I can forgive the pint size English rapper for her doings I just can’t find it in me to do the same for Jessie.
One song that does stick out for me within the album is ‘L.O.V.E’– the theme of which is literally spelled out for the listener. Jessie has admitted that this song was written for her girlfriend- a statement that rings quite happily in gay fans ears. Through her lyrics Jessie echoes the idea that love doesn’t choose a boy or a girl’, which goes along hand in hand with statements about her sexuality. The song is not called ‘G.A.Y’. It doesn’t focus on Jessie’s sexuality but rather the idea she is in love with another person who just happens to be a girl – which I believe to be a more powerful statement.
Songs from the album that I did appreciate elements of are ‘Who You Are’ and ‘Nobody’s Perfect’. The song ‘Who You Are’ is both powerful and sweet, asking listeners to remember to ‘be true to who [they] are’.
‘Who You Are’ in my opinion does not reflect Jessie J as the artist that she is truly is. I feel as an album it fails to showcase her talent and instead hides it behind overproduced tracks, which as a whole has left me feeling rather despondent. Regardless, I still have a lot of respect for Jessie and believe that she is still destined for great things. I appreciate the way her songs ‘Do It Like A Dude’ and ‘Price Tag’ deal with two of the biggest issues within society; gender and money. To her credit, her album is full of uplifting songs that will no doubt find their way into the heart of avid listeners. Her energy is something that is easily seen through her live performances and interviews and whilst I’m disappointed with her debut I’m sure that she will develop as an artist and produce a terrific sophomore effort.