The New British Invasion will soon bring us an artist that will without a doubt garner great attention, but will it merited and in good taste? You decide.
Jessie J, winner of the top spot in the BBC’s Sound of 2011 (a list which has previously named Florence and the Machine and Ellie Goulding as the sound of 2009 and 2010, respectively), will be the newest pop sensation to come out of Britain this spring.
The songwriter-turned-pop-star is going to be marketed to the U.S. as a tell-it-like-it-is singer backed by a positive but aggressively feminine message.
Her first U.S. single, “Price Tag” featuring American rap pop star B.o.B is a sunny pop track that hasn’t really been seen in the charts since the late 1990s. The only notable exception is the SoCal pop of Natasha Beddingfield.
“Price Tag” has “number 1 single” written all over it. A reggae-infused pop beat created by hitmaker Dr. Luke (who we will come back to later) is paired with a euphoric and incredibly catchy melody featuring positive lyrics about living an easy life and “forgetting about the price tag” - i.e. taking a load off our money worries for at least the 3 minutes and 40 seconds of the song.
“Stop for a minute and smile!” urges Jessie J. Will you?
Watch the video for "Price Tag" below: [via YouTube]
Now, there are two ways the public will take the track: One listener will enjoy the song’s positive message and the light, sunny feel of the production; but another listener (namely, me) will appreciate the attempt to liven spirits, but will wonder why the track isn’t on Radio Disney (which, I assure you, it will be). There have, however, been signs toward a resurgence of the ultra sugary pop track like “Price Tag.”
First is the beyond enormous success of Black Eyed Peas’ worldwide chart topping single “I Gotta Feeling.” It seems like you couldn’t go anywhere in ‘09 and ‘10 without people singing “tonight’s gonna be a good night!”
Example: My girlfriend, who is a fifth grade teacher, performed with her fellow teachers a rendition of “I Gotta Feeling” at a pep rally to “pump kids up” to pass the TAKS test last year. (Lyrics: “ I gotta feelin’ that this test gonna be a good test...”)
In short, your mom even knows and enjoys the song. Why? Because it’s a positive, fun and catchy song.
The second glipse at the resurgence of sugar pop was, in part, due to Jessie J herself. The singer was part of the songwriting team that created the equally inescapable “Party In the U.S.A.” performed by Miley Cyrus.
Leading the writing team for “Party” was heavyweight producer Dr. Luke, who has produced hits for acts like Britney Spears, Ke$ha, Katy Perry and almost every other top 20 pop artist of the last decade. Luke is also, you might remember, the producer of “Price Tag,” lending more credence to the prediction that it will top the U.S. charts.
Now, a barrage of top-selling pop acts have jumped on the trend. Ke$ha promotes individuality with “We R Who We R” and Lady Gaga has created “a race without prejudice” with her chart-topping human pride anthem “Born This Way.”
“Price Tag” is, not the British audience’s introduction to Jessie J. And if you’ve heard that song first, you might be surprised by her first single, “Do It Like A Dude.” There are two curse words in this song. If that offends, please do not watch.[Via YouTube
The song shows a grittier side to Jessie J that should solidify her in the American audience as a versitile artist, but that fact seems to be so incredibly calculated is a bit sickening. “Do It Like a Dude” is, like “Price Tag”, also catchy enough to be a hit and cashes in on the sudden craze of in-your-face and strange female artists such as Lady Gaga and Ke$ha.
Jessie also longs for a remix of “Dude” with recent rap queen Nicki Minaj (shown at right), which would catapult the song to fame instintaneously. Speaking to Rap-Up.com recently, Jessie said “I’m a huge fan of hers [Minaj]. I’m just gonna maybe bug her at the Grammys like, ‘Hi, we have the same hair.’ You never know. I’m just gonna keep an open mind and see what happens.”
The only reason all of this heavy marketing and calculated single distribution is unsettling is that Jessie J has great vocal talent which isn’t being packaged in this marketing. Through the layers of autotune and slick production there is a beautiful voice singing unispired lyrics.
If Jessie J is cemented as a hitmaker, she can find a way to give herself the stage and perform tracks give us a performance which is only hinted at through these overproduced hits. The only bright spot of her album is the title track, which is a good sign.
Here’s a clip a live performance of the title track of her album, which shows J’s vocal chops. “Who You Are”[via YouTube]:
Jessie J’s album, “Who You Are” is available on iTunes now.
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