Friday 17 October 2014

Dolly On ... Jessie J

I first heard about Jessie J when I was in Sixth Form, waaaaay back in 2011. A friend showed me this video of Price Tag live on Jools Holland and I couldn't believe how good Jessie's voice was and how much control she had.

We all became pretty obsessed, spending our free periods watching videos like the one below. I actually started a Jessie J blog on Tumblr with a friend, and although we don't really post on it anymore, it's still going strong!

Soon after this Jessie's first album Who You Are was released, and I loved it! For at least a month it was all I listened to. My favourite tracks are probably L.O.V.E, Stand Up and Who You Are, but I absolutely love the live version of Nobody's Perfect that Jessie's been doing on tour recently. With my blog and the album, 2011 was the year of Jessie J for me. I'm pretty sure I've seen every picture and every video of Jessie that was published in 2011/2012. 

I finally got to see her live in 2012 when I won tickets to her Vitamin Water gig at the Roundhouse. To nobody's surprise, Jessie's set was incredible! And, not to blow my own trumpet, I got some really great photos and videos of Jessie that night (see above and below).

Jessie then went on to do quite a bit of touring, she shaved her head, and announced a second album! I was beyond excited. It may be a surprise to hear then, that upon the release of Alive, I was more than disappointed. The album is generic and doesn't show off Jessie's incredible voice at all! Out of 13 tracks, there's only 3 that are anywhere near good (Daydreamin', Excuse My Rude and Conquer The World). I'll admit I probably do hold Jessie to a higher standard than some other artists, just because she has the best voice out there at the moment, but still, anyone could have made this album and it would've been shit. 

So, on to Sweet Talker. The album came out on Monday, and this post was meant to go up on Wednesday, but I've been out of action with an ear infection (ouch), so it's taken me a bit longer to get it all together. I hoped that Alive was just a misstep, and that this album would put Jessie right back on top where she belongs, but unfortunately it was not. This album, although not quite as bad as Alive, is still incredibly boring and doesn't define Jessie as the megastar she could (and should!) be. 

The tracks on this album are all over the place. Not only in their sound, but also their composition. Verses and choruses don't go together, making the songs feel very disjointed. For example, songs like Masterpiece have great, unique verses and pre-choruses, but then go into big generic poppy choruses. Burnin' Up is similar, with unconventional verses leading into characterless, sweeping pre-choruses. Aint Been Done and Said Too Much feel like they've been spliced together from scraps of other songs. It feels like Jessie wants to be original, but chickens out at the last moment.

The other tracks on the album are split between dull, wanting-to-be epic songs, and songs that actually aren't that bad, but are swallowed up and hidden by the rest of the album. In the first category we have songs like Fire, Get Away, Loud and Bang Bang. Fire is quite similar to some of the tracks on Alive, it wants to be an anthem, but it only just gets there in the last third. Get Away is unmemorable, like Loud, which feels like no work went into it at all. Bang Bang is a difficult one, I don't really like it, because I don't have a clue what it's about. But, obviously a lot of people do like it, it's been number one all over the world! Let's put it this way, this song wouldn't have even seen the top 200 if Ariana wasn't on it. 

On to something positive, the few good songs on this album. Sweet Talker, Keep Us Together and Your Loss, I'm Found are all sweet tracks that show off Jessie's voice. They actually feel like complete songs; verses merge into choruses, and they seem to 'know' what they are. Personal is another of these songs, and the first track on the album that I have actually been able to listen to on repeat.

Seal Me With A Kiss is my favourite song on the album, it's a modern twist on 80s soul classics, and really shows off Jessie's voice, and reminds me of previous album tracks Casualty Of Love and Daydreamin'. Jessie does this genre so well I don't why she limits it to one track per album! Now on to the best track on the album - STRIP! I don't understand why this is only on deluxe version! This could be the next Domino success-wise. 

All in all, I wish I hadn't paid £10.99 for this, and had just downloaded it illegally. When you listen to albums that define the medium, like Paramore, 4 and My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, hearing something so unformed and obviously quickly put together stands out. Jessie still doesn't seem to have found her sound, and the eclectic mix of styles on this album just seems messy. The production on Jessie's music doesn't do anything for her voice. I think she should release a live album, of her best tracks, just to show people that she can actually sing. Something her albums don't show.

To read the rest of the Dolly On ... series, click here!

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