Rising star taking the music charts by storm
“I pitched a song to Britney”
WITH a mixture of delight, horror and shock, rising star Jessie J screams: “Could my face get any bigger?” We’re standing beside a large roundabout in London and the 22year-old has just seen a giant – and we mean massive – billboard of herself for the first time. To everyone but the singer it makes perfect sense. She’s just won the Critics’ Choice Brit Award – given to the new artist most likely to succeed in the coming year. Her debut single Do It Like A Dude went to No 2 last year, while the follow-up Price Tag went one better last month and topped the charts for two weeks. Her debut album, Who You Are, comes out on Monday. Jessica Ellen Cornish is now a bona fide pop star and it seems likely her personality, talent and looks will keep her in that position for as long as she wants. “Ha ha, you called me a pop star,” she says, giggling. “And my looks? People tell me I’m beautiful, but I just laugh at that. It’s nothing but a good haircut and some nice foundation, mate.” Whatever she might say, Jessie, pushing 6ft tall, is stunning, with a pale complexion, red lipstick and a sharp bob of raven hair that makes her look like a cross between a geisha and Morticia Addams. Although she’s clearly a product of the MTV-watching generation, there’s still something defiantly British and oldfashioned about Jessie J. There’s her self-deprecation, for a start, together with an outspoken, playful streak many American stars just don’t have. “Everything’s such a whirlwind at the moment,” she explains. And the fact we’re doing this interview way after normal working hours is proof of that. There just aren’t enough hours in the day for Jessie right now. “It’s a bit like taking on 10 more jobs at the moment. I wanted to be a singer, but now I’ve had to become a model, a spokesperson, a good interviewee, everything. “You have to take it step by step and not get overawed. “A journey is way more important than your destination. And I have to enjoy this part because I know it’s going to get harder – but I’m more than ready for it.” To many, it will appear as if Jessie arrived, fully formed,
the day she
released her debut single, but in music there is no such thing as an overnight sensation. Jessie first started taking music seriously when she was 15 and was signed to a record label as a solo artist just after turning 17. “I’d been in a girl band for two years before that,” she explains, “but that didn’t come off.” After Jessie’s first solo record deal came to nothing, she began trying to sell the songs she’d written for use by other artists, with a great deal of success. She’s written for Justin Timberlake, Alicia Keys, Christina Aguilera and Miley Cyrus, who had a No 1 in America with Jessie’s song Party In The USA. “I’m reluctant to call myself a songwriter,” she says. “It’s kind of come across in my interviews like that’s my main thing and being an artist is second, but that’s not it at all. “Songwriting is a byproduct of me wanting to be a solo artist that has control over what they do. There are lot of artists out there who are just dummies – getting dressed by management, being told what to say and sing and wear – but I’m really proud of the fact that I write songs and pitched one to Britney. “She might not have used it, but I’ll just write a better one.”
IN CONTROL: Singer Jessie has written for Christina Aguilera. TOP TALENT: Jessie J with her Critics’ Choice Brit Award.
STAR: Jessie J is set to release her debut album.