Jessie J – Who You Are
PopR&B & Hip-Hop
Lava / Universal Republic
Everyone loves an underdog,
especially when that underdog is more of a bulldog. She’s big news now, but 22-year-old
London-bred Jessie J, born Jessica Cornish, has had to jump some hurdles that you
couldn’t even make up. Having been diagnosed with an irregular heartbeat at a
young age, and having suffered a minor stroke at eighteen didn’t slow her down. Neither did her
record label going bankrupt as she prepared to release her debut album in 2008.
And so out of adversity comes
a determination, an ironic sense of humour and just the right amount of aggro.
There’s no doubt that riding these waves has tooled her in writing for an
eclectic range of super-hot celeb musicians. You can find ‘J. Cornish’ inside
sleeves of albums by Alicia Keys, Rihanna and Justin Timberlake among others. She
also wrote the hugely successful and awe-inspiring ‘Party in the USA’ for Miley
Cirus. That doesn’t make her a bad person, but it should be ignored for her own
You can dip into any part of
Who You Are and find a catchy, radio-friendly
and potentially karaoke-appropriate tune. There’s a distinct and familiar sound
running through most of the record. Hard but cheeky r&b numbers like ‘Price
Tag’, ‘Rainbow’ and ‘Do It like a Dude’ aren’t far removed from any Rihanna
song. Jessie J is much more impressive
though where she takes chances, like the burlesque-laced ‘Mamma Knows Best’, or
her neo-soul effort ‘Casualty of Love’.
The track that by far shines brightest, most
probably because it’s novelty of being a live track is ‘Big White Room’. No
show-stealing beat and base, the song just features a woman with her guitar. If
there is any doubt cast on her talent as an artist, this track more than any
As a writer, her style is obvious. There are no metaphors,
allegories, or symbolism. She’s bold and barefaced in her approach to any
subject, whether it is taking shots at her detractors in ‘Who’s Laughing Now’,
or the floaty ‘L.O.V.E’, in which she brilliantly and unashamedly rhymes the
word love with the word glove.
It’s much easier to like
Jessie J than it is to like her album. The last line of this review should read
something like ‘good effort, but should do better.’ You can’t help but like her
badass attitude and her even badder-ass haircut, but the album is driven by clichéd
sentiments. Yet this is also somehow the charm of the woman herself. This is a
singer, musician, and writer who is so colourful and sincere, yet so utterly
flawed and perfectly imperfect that it’s fantastic. This is all clichéd talk
indeed, but one can only praise cliché with cliché.