Earlier this week, something really rather weird happened. A band derided for years for their overblown acid jazz-funk fusion and their frontman’s propensity for ludicrous hats announced their comeback. And the internet went wild. Yes, the none-more-’90s Jamiroquai – ostensibly a vehicle for Jay Kay, a proto Danny Dyer-esque lad with a feather headdress and a penchant for flashy sports cars – revealed live plans for a host of summer festivals as well as a 22 second video clip to tease ‘Automaton’, their first album since 2010’s highly forgettable ‘Rock Dust Light Star’. All blippy Justice-style noise, an LED covered piece of ostentatious headwear and, we’re pretty sure, the disused tube tunnel from The Prodigy’s ‘Firestarter’ video, it caused legions of secret Jamiroquai fans to crawl out of the online woodwork and profess their funky love. Reader, I admit, I was one of them.
Growing up in the 1990s, Jamiroquai have always been fluttering around on the outskirts of my consciousness, like Hooch and Beanie Babies, but I would never have considered myself a fan. Well, until I went to a house party at the tail-end of last year and someone hijacked the aux cord and put ‘Virtual Insanity’ on. Holy Jesus what a massive, massive tune. Evidently I was slightly late to the game – it won a Grammy Award in 1997 and featured on the Guinness Book of Records’ best selling funk album of all time, 1996’s ‘Travelling Without Moving’ – but let’s just be happy that I got to the game in the end. I danced on a coffee table. I may have pretended the floor and walls were moving. I felt sorry for dismissing Jamiroquai for so many years. Then I proceeded to request ‘Cosmic Girl’, ‘Little L’ and ‘Deeper Underground’ until I fell off said table.
Though they might not be the first act that people are fond of name-dropping, Jamiroquai’s influence has reached far beyond the vintage bubble in which he thrived. For all the people coolly referencing Sade right now, just as many are slyly slipping in an acid funk Jay Kay-ism. Justin Timberlake’s entire career has basically been a lengthy Jamiroquai tribute act, while everyone from the actually very cool Frank Ocean to the actually very uncool Maroon 5 boasts whispers of Jay Kay-ishness in their tunes.
‘Love Foolosophy’ is essentially a Pharrell song – and with a Pharrell-tastic video, complete with bikini babes giving him the eye as he wears a dapper suit and drives a posh motor around some non-specific glamourous hillside retreat. And we haven’t even mentioned the shared fondness for oversized hats. It looks like 2017 will be the year people finally start admitting their love for Jamiroquai – bring it on.