Single Review: Jessie J – ‘Who’s Laughing Now?’

“Her narcissistic extravagances give the impression she actually believes she invented this type of song”

2 STARS

Digital Release: August 21, 2011

Physical Release: August 22, 2011

About her raucous début, there was an uncomfortable inevitability hanging over the success one Jessica Cornish. It’s was like it was cast in stone and she was going to be thrust into the public spotlight whether we wanted her or not. The BBC Sound Of… Poll predicted her success – or more likely, gave her a leg-up and promoted her as the next big thing for British music, and her subsequent BRIT Award win cemented her as one to watch out for. And watch out for her we did as she released second single ‘Price Tag’, a collaboration with B.o.B. that sounded like the birth-child of VV Brown’s ‘Shark In The Water’ and Little Jackie’s ‘The World Should Revolve Around Me’. And shot straight to #1 while the gender-bending ‘Do It Like A Dude’ bungee-jumped the UK Singles Chart not quite knowing where it was going to be each week.

Jessie J is best defined by that which would make most other artists completely obnoxious. She knows she has a voice that could – and frequently tries to – call down the heavens, and the sooner her listeners realise and accept this, the sooner she can get on with more of the same without having to stop and explain herself in between songs when someone innocently asks “Why does she sing like that?”. She sticks religiously to wailing like a banshee when the subtlest and most understanding of emotion is called for, and her un-nuanced phrasing makes it hard to pin-point her self-professed individuality amongst the typical styles of many young stars, aiming to prove to anyone and everyone that’ll give them the time of day that they have a ‘good voice’, by simply shouting unnecessarily loudly, thus drowning out any emotion or sentimental resonance.

And new single ‘Who’s Laughing Now?’, an anti-bullying anthem, is packed to bursting with try-hard emotion, often leaving the listeners at some considerable amount of unease because of her superfluous voice giving the none-too-easily achieved impression she may explode at any given moment by flaunting the same kind of needless vocal ostentation that many a female R&B singer has tried to pass off as genuine soul for decades.

“Thank you for the pain/It made me raise my game/And I’m still rising/I’m still rising”, she chants before hitting the chorus and a whole host of other self-set vocal challenges with the intention of belittling those that bullied her while she was at school. Her narcissistic extravagances give the impression she actually believes she invented this type of song – like she’s drawing the first blueprint and challenging those – bullies and musical peers – to dare step up to the task of out-singing her as she strips a much-loved concept about rising above adversary of it’s musical complexity, melody and soul. Sure, there’s half-convincing angst and motivation behind her ferocious vocal performance, but there’s nothing for it to stand on.

It stands to reason that, by now, Jessie J and her production team would be well advised to note that when you adopt, or try to be influenced by, a particular revolutionary significance without showing much interest in advancing beyond the defining characteristics of that revolutionary significance – now ten years out of date – and then try and call it your own work, you sound absolutely ridiculous.

 

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2 Comments

  1. Gerard McGarry

    Ouch! Scathing!

    I take your points though. After listening to the song just once, I found Jessie’s voice beginning to grate on my nerves. It’s got a mildly catchy hook though.

    My bigger problem is the “you bullied me, now I’m famous and look at you”. It’s childish and attempts to turn the tables in a cruel way – the victim trying to bully her former classmates because she’s what? Famous for five minutes? Boring! To any mature person, this comes off as bitter in the extreme, but there’ll be a ton of teens who translate it as an empowerment anthem!*

    *Idiots

  2. Dara Hickey

    You’re not wrong, Gerard! The worst part is that there’s absolutely no empathic opportunities – she goes about trying to feel everyone’s pain like she’s some angelic saviour of the down-trodden but she’s not – this song is all about Jessie J and her flash-in-the-pan success.

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