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Review: Not Quite Gaga, Jessie J Fails At Meeting Her Goals

Jessie J's Album "Who You Are"

When a quote in Rolling Stone reads “the U.K.’s answer to Lady Gaga,” you had better bring it. Jessie J, born Jessica Ellen Cornish is an openly bi-sexual, singer from London. Her outfits are over the top and her makeup is just as outrageous. In fact if you boil down her entire schtick, you’d probably arrive at a Lady Gaga cover artist. Well, we’re not going to go that far. Jessie J actually has a great deal of respect for Gaga. “Of course Gaga is incredible but she’s set the bar so high for everyone else” Jessie J told Mirror. As if Gaga had done something wrong, she sounded determined to stand out in a world in which breaking through was harder than ever. 

Jessie J’s career began in songwriting. Her most notable song to date is Miley Cyrus’s hit “Party In The USA,” a credit she shares with two others. With that background, one would think that pop songs with irrisistable hooks would be her bread and butter. She got off to a great start in America. Her first wide released single was “Price Tag” which featured B.o.B., one of 2010′s brightest stars. The song was perfect and led off her album Who You Are. The song topped foreign charts and reached #49 on the Billboard Hot 100. As fresh and unique as this song was, the rest of the album is that stale and generic. A mix of styles and lack of identity highlight the albums major holes.

Sometimes she sounds like Lily Allen. Other times she’s trying to pull off her best Britney Spears. Sometimes they even happen in the same song (see: “Who’s Laughing Now”). There’s even some Spice Girls and a little Beyonce hidden in some of the tracks (see: “Abracadabra” and “L.O.V.E.”). The first single “Do It Like A Dude,” which never charted in the States, does nothing to stand out. It’s almost as if she tries to be vulgar or over the top just for the sake of it. When it comes to Lady Gaga, the reason she’s had so much sucess stems from an audience that buys the entire package. They expect her to be crazy. For Jessie J, it feels fake.

It’s also important to examine the Lily Allen angle. A known party girl and overall crazy person, Allen’s songs were perfectly suited to her unique life style. Songs about masturbation, shoplifting grandmothers and weird siblings all fit because they told stories, many of them were genuine. She helped to carve a spot for british female vocalists in American culture, as Amy Whinehouse and Adele followed her here in the years following 2006′s “Smile.” The genuine element has to be the number one thing missing from Jessie J’s album. As if she were doing everything she could to emulate other current pop stars, the only piece of her that we really see occurs on the very first song.

Maybe she set two different bars far too high. Releasing a huge single that really doesn’t fit into an album can make life difficult enough for an emerging artist. Making Lady Gaga comparisons can’t possibly be worth the pressure. It is possible that under different circumstances this album wouldn’t suck. But with the two hurdles standing tall, Jessie J failed in her mission to be the U.K.’s Lady Gaga. At this point, she’ll be lucky to be the U.K.’s answer to Miley Cyrus.

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