Jessie J has been announced as the winner of the Critics’ Choice Award at next year’s Brit Awards. Previous winners include Ellie Goulding, Florence And The Machine and Adele
Jessie J adjusts her grey beanie, pokes a lock of hair behind her massive hooped gold earrings. “You know,” she grins, “it’s like Popjustice said: ‘Jessie J – 500 years in the making…’”
The name on the tip of too many tongues for too long, Jessie’s been waiting in the wings for so many years that she’s watched whole pop civilisations rise and fall in the time it’s taken her to get to the launch platform. ‘Do It Like A Dude’ will change all that. Real bump’n’grind R&B pop in the Rihanna/Pink/Gaga mould, in it she’s managed to synthesise all three of these totems into a writhing slab of raunch that sounds very big indeed. “I think people miss the wit in that song.
It’s meant to be funny too!” she laughs.
It’s easy to see why record execs kept getting the wrong idea about Jessie J over the last five years, because The Voice is what hits you first. “Who is the best singer?” Justin Timberlake pondered. “Jessie J.” So vocal was his vocals enthusiasm that he took her into the studio for a week (“A sweetie. Gave me lots of great advice”). And in its power, the voice has an air of jazz hands to it. She was barred from the choir at the age of 11 for “singing too loud”. Really, she makes Florence seem like Jack Steadman singing through a straw.
Now, after battles with those trying to tar her with the ‘diva’ brush, she’s managed to find a way of transmitting her self-written real-me thing. There’s a vulnerability, a proper confessional quality to a lot of her stuff that could appeal to a nation of self-examining teenage girls, in a soul Kate Nash way. “My song ‘Who You Are’,” she admits, “is like therapy for me. I can’t sing it half the time because I start crying.”
Jessie J knows what she’s got is special – that’s why she’s invested so much energy in incubating it for so long. She’s certainly not your manufactured toy.
Are there any big surprises on the record? “Well. Uh, there are some bits where I rap.”
Oh, kinda like that Cher Lloyd girl off of The X Factor? “No,” she frosts over, “not like that…” The conversation peters out.
Need To Know
• An ex-‘topline’ writer, Jessie co-wrote US Number One ‘Party In The USA’ for Miley Cyrus
• She had a small stroke aged 18 as the consequence of a minor heart condition, and hence doesn’t drink alcohol or caffeine, or stay up late
• She enjoys games evenings – especially ones involving Scattergories and Scrabble
This article originally appeared in the November 27 issue of NME