Jason Derulo’s six-pack abs rival hit pop songs in growing fame
In some sense, being Jason Derulo is difficult. There’s a certain level of maintenance involved in being a multi-multiplatinum pop star: There are countless daily career decisions about everything from video treatments to stage lighting that can’t be delegated, storied six-pack abs that must be tended to.
“Every piece of this is me, and nobody knows me like I do,” says Derulo, 26, in a phone interview. “I think people can feel you better when it comes from you, and it is you. It feels more genuine. It is exhausting, but I wouldn’t have it any other way, because every time I leave something in someone else’s hands, it turns to ( junk). I’d rather deal with it myself, and if it turns to ( junk), I’m OK with that.”
Derulo (born Jason Desrouleaux — Derulo is a phonetic pronunciation) recently released his fourth album, “Everything is 4,” but he’s really a singles artist. Derulo has sold more than 50 million songs in six years, including platinum bangers “Wiggle” and “Want to Want Me.”
Derulo was raised in Florida, a musical theater kid relentless in his pursuit of a show business career. “I was always obsessed with music and performing in general,” he says. “It was easy for me to work hard because it’s kind of an obsession.”
As a teenager he wrote songs for hitmakers like Diddy, Sean Kingston and Danity Kane, though it’s unclear how many of those songs, if any, were released.
He wrote and performed on rapper Birdman’s track “Bossy” in 2007, though even then Derulo knew that writing songs for other people would never be enough.
“I knew that money would start to come in soon, but it wasn’t fulfilling creatively, because that’s only half of my obsession, right?” he says. “Writing songs is cool, but getting to record it and perform it, that’s like a whole other side of what I love to do.”
Derulo eventually signed to a subsidiary of Warner Bros. His first single, “Whatcha Say,” went to No. 1 and helped establish his signature sound: sexy and smooth, club-friendly and unthreatening. He became famous almost instantly and remains so, despite lacking the A-list recog- nition of rivals like Chris Brown who have sold fewer singles than he has.
Derulo dated well (he and singer Jordin Sparks were a couple for years), wasn’t opposed to B-list TV appearances (he was a judge on “So You Think You Can Dance”) and became known for singing his name at the beginning of his hits (though he doesn’t do it anymore). But he has struggled, sometimes exhaustively, to establish his brand.
“When I got on the scene, the level of control was not all there,” he says. “Musically, it was, but in terms of total image and the whole package, it took a long time for me to build up credibility.”
“Everything is 4” was built to showcase Derulo’s range, to set him apart from the half-dozen other male, urban-pop singers found spilling out of clubs on TMZ.com every night. It’s a sprawling assortment of pop, electro jams, R&B and even country, the latter courtesy of the Stevie Wonder-Keith Urban collaboration “Broke.”
“I got to talking with Stevie Wonder when I was at the White House … and I asked him if he wanted to play harmonica on the song,” Derulo says. “And he’s like, ‘Of course.’ He said, ‘Man, if I heard that (song) on the radio and I’m not on it, I’m going to whip your (butt).’ ”
Derulo works almost all the time, writing and recording and working out constantly to maintain his magazine-cover abs, which are almost as famous as he is. His physique, like his career, is a beast that needs constant feeding.
“I intake at least 3,200 calories a day,” Derulo says. “They’re not fun calories, you know what I’m saying?”