Ja­son Derulo’s six-pack abs ri­val hit pop songs in grow­ing fame

Sun Sentinel Broward Edition - Showtime - Broward - - MUSIC ART - By Al­li­son Ste­wart

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?”


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