Jessie J: Who You Are

C-

Jessie J

Album: Who You Are
Label: Lava/Universal Republic

The “Ha ha, look at me now, bitches” anthem has become de rigueur for rising pop stars, and British import Jessie J—née Jessica Cornish—obliges with “Who’s Laughing Now” on her debut, Who You Are. But that song’s “I’ll show them all” bluster extends to the entire album, which suffers from a severe case of trying-too-hard-itis: Cornish’s singing is laden with melisma, scatting, and showy vocal gymnastics, to generally annoying effect. Her lyrics aim for inspirational (she’s described herself as “half-artist, half-therapist”), but frequently land in the realm of middle-school poetry (“We’re the colors of the rainbow / Let’s share our pot of gold”). Her songs have a grab-bag quality, incorporating rapping, R&B crooning, soul balladry, dancehall bump, and more in an attempt to establish a unique identity, though they mostly come across as cynical pop-by-committee. Who You Are often creeps right up to the line of solid pop music—“Abracadabra” and the lead-off single, “Price Tag,” come closest to being unmitigated successes—but then one of Cornish’s off-putting vocal tics or a particularly clunky turn of phrase send it off the rails. It’s frustrating that Cornish can’t live up to her own hype; she has a strong (though unsubtle) voice and endearingly brash attitude. But in trying to be an über-pop-star, she ends up becoming an every-pop-star.

More Music Review