Having rose to fame on the back of an impressive ability to yell in tune, Jessie J is finally realising that just because she can, doesn’t necessarily mean she should. Her newest tunes have shunned the in-your-face belting in favour of something more stripped back and stylised. After three albums of shrieking every note known to man seemingly just to prove she can, Jessie J has finally simmered down.
And it’s a relief. J was in serious danger of becoming a laughing stock, having already begun the transition into full meme-status after photos emerged of her singing to passengers aboard an Emirates plane to various mocking captions on Twitter. There was also the Tuc Cracker endorsement, which saw J dressed in a hideous yellow outfit while offering her best bank card grin. Finally, a clip of J singing ‘Nobody’s Perfect’ with the repeated stuttering refrain of ‘no, no, no‘ went viral, securing J’s status as meme fodder.
But with her newest release, Jessie J is leaving behind the flashy outfits, show-off vocals and calculated pop stylings in favour of something a little more nuanced. ‘Queen’, the third single taken from her upcoming album R.O.S.E is a creeping bit of sophisticated pop that sees J in a far more subdued mood.
“This is more than another song for me,” J wrote on Twitter. “It’s a feeling, a movement, and a mantra. Words I want EVERY woman to sing and FEEL.” ‘Queen’ is certainly an empowerment anthem, but one that deals in subtlety and restraint rather than the bombastic slogan-shouting we’re used to. “Stop feeling like you’re not enough / Stop feeding into the haters / Stop and give yourself some love,” J urges over a drip of minimalist beats. While the ethos of ‘Queen’ is similar to J’s ‘Who You Are’ from 2011, its quieter, more naked approach suggests a severe change of tactic. J is no longer interested in explosive choruses, having turned her attention to more nuanced—and honest—forms of expression.
It’s something we’ve already seen in R.O.S.E‘s first two singles. ‘Not My Ex’ favoured a similarly bare arrangement, keeping the focus firmly on J’s lyrics as she sung wistfully about her shitbag ex. Then there was ‘Think About That’, the track that heralded J’s new minimalist sound. Similarly confessional in tone, J opens her heart over a jittering beat and twinkling keys, sounding more exposed than ever, the big pop choruses replaced by a barely-there accompaniment. Like ‘Queen’, both tracks were produced by DJ Camper, and his delicate, less-is-more approach is at once hugely flattering of J’s voice and also the perfect pairing to J’s new style of confessional pop. Finally, it seems J has found someone capable of giving her powerhouse vocals the careful handling they deserve.
It’s taken four albums, but Jessie J has finally reached a point where she doesn’t feel the need to yell or shriek to get validation. Her new direction favours subtlety and style over brash, hedonistic pop and, though this promises far less in the way of revenue (so far none of R.O.S.E‘s singles have charted on either side of the Atlantic), it also announces the death of the clownish jester that Jessie J was in danger of becoming. With a growing arsenal of elegant, modern tracks under her belt, it seems Jessie J is finally growing into the artist she had the potential to be all along.