Jessie J at Benicassim 2012

July 15, 2012

Ten billion girls sprint towards the stage as Jessie begins. It’s like a slice of jam toast being left outside an ants next. Yeah Jessie, you’re a slice of jam toast and your fans are ants. I’m sure that’ll stick.

Opener ‘Do It Like a Dude’ culminates with Jessie’s guitarist firing off a wild solo while she is arched back up against him, rather like Michael Jackson in the ‘Dirty Diana’ video. In fact, I’m pretty sure her guitarist played part of the solo too. See how the song is about being able to do what a man(dem) does and she’s doing something where the gender roles are reversed? Perhaps we’re reading into it a little too much. Anyway, this is the video we meant.

Hits are belted out pretty much back-to-back and Jessie is charming in between. Her songs go through genres like a check-list, and a well-drilled band add the obligatory live kick. A cover of Usher’s ‘Climax’ is a high-point, followed by a cover of Luther Vandross ‘Never Too Much’. It shows the soulful vocals that helped to draw Jessie to the attention of many during her earlier days. Then she adds a load of those sassy colloquialisms that have annoyed non-fans ever since.

There are a million reasons to be cynical about ‘Price-Tag’, both the song itself and the setting in which it’s played (a lot of locals can’t afford tickets). But the feelgood factor of Jessie pulling up a crowd member to sing with her for the entire song wipes any coldness from the heart Laura (the crowd member) was far more interested in watching Jessie from 5 feet away than helping to entertain the thousands of people in front of her, which was quite endearing.

This is a package. For all the “unique” talk that is thrown our way about her, this is ultimately just a prototype of what a popstar has to be today. You must have an RnB number, you must have rock bits, you must have a positive message about being yourself. You need to be a competent all-rounder with everything turned up. There’s nothing wrong with any of those things individually, just the fact that they’re put together as a blueprint in this way.

It makes a perfectly good show, but there’s something hollow about it. It’s not Jessie’s faut, it’s just the way the industry wants people now. There’s no time/desire to develop a Michael Jackson, Madonna or Beatles style artist, who becomes eclectic naturally over time.

The thing is, Jessica Cornish is actually a very unique artist. She has the potential to be something amazing that is totally unlike any other star out there right now or before. She’s not there yet. Many have applauded her as “a British answer to Katy Perry.” Why? We don’t need an answer, we need a statement. Maybe one day we’ll wake up and give one.

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