Lady Gaga has a lot to answer for, not least for forcing today’s generation of musical divas to up the ante in their stage and music video presence. Thanks to Gaga’s wild, headline-grabbing wardrobe, female artists – from Christina Aguilera to Shakira, Katy Perry to Kylie Minogue – are doing their darnedest to dress kookier, but often in the process sacrificing focus on the more important job – to deliver great music. Enter Jessie J (her birth certificate actually reads Jessica Ellen Cornish) – a British artist who appears to have come out of nowhere, dressed in decadent garb, but never letting listeners down in the quality vocal department.
Sydney’s music media and a select number of fans were recently treated to a live showcase by Jessie of songs from her debut album ‘Who You Are’ including her smash hit single ‘Price Tag’ (“Ain’t about the ch-ching-ch-ching, ain’t about the bl-bling bl-bling”). Accompanied by only a guitarist, it were Jessie’s powerhouse vocals that were the real star of this promotional gig. The girl can really let it rip, whether she’s delivering a love song (‘Casualty Of Love’), a banging jazz tune (‘Mamma Knows Best’), a call to arms (‘Stand Up’), or pop tune with quasi-feminist bent (‘Do It Like A Dude’).
Dressed in a leopard print cat-suit and dishing out the occasional joke about the room being haunted by the ghosts of female prisoners (the showcase was held at the Cell Block Theatre in Darlinghurst’s National Art School), the sexy aesthetic and stand-up effects not once got in the way of what this scribe consider one of the most impressive new music showcases witnessed in recent years. Put it this way: I’ve had Jessie J’s CD sitting in a stack unlistened to for several months but after this live performance, her music is on regular rotation in the office, and even after five.
This is one fresh singer who I’m happy to call a true artist, and not just an ‘act’. She possesses the ball-breaking attitude of Lily Allen balanced nicely with a daring, feminine wardrobe that makes Gaga look a little too silly sometimes; bangs that make Jennifer Aniston’s locks look pathetically passé; the vocal prowess of Christina, Cher and Leona Lewis combined; has written songs for artists as disparate as Chris Brown and Miley Cyrus; has youth and splendid looks on her side; and, I’m guessing, a good couple of decades of fantastic music surprises tucked up that leopard-print sleeve of hers. Watch this space.
Jessie J’s debut album ‘Who You Are’ is out through Universal Music.
Photography by Anastasia Fai.