Jessie J – the J stands for ‘whatever you want it to’ – strides into the room, looking a billion dollars. After you’ve got past all 5’9” of her cut-glass beauty (‘I love being a giant’), her figure hugging catsuit (‘I was front of the queue for legs, back for boobs and bum’), the 36-hole Dr Martens boots and the huge gold hoop earrings with Bambi encircled in them (‘it’s Disney Chic, innit?’), Jessie’s superb pop star hair hits you.
A poker straight, ink black bob with a perfect fringe slashed above the eyes, it begs immediate questions. Is it inspired by historic film icon Louise Brooks? Uma Thurman in Pulp Fiction? Jessie J is pure ghetto-pop fabulosity. Her hair might just be one component part of this emerging 21st century superstar, but it’s a key one. ‘To be honest, I always think of it as being a bit Mystic Meg,’ chips in Jessie herself, referring to the kitsch Sunday newspaper Psychic. ‘People are always coming up to me on the street and asking me if it’s a wig. I say ‘yeah, yeah, you can buy it down Hamley’s’’. Jessie J is also pure ghetto-pop humour.
Impossible to pin down in a world of female pop homogeneity, at 22 years of age, the future star born Jessica Cornish carries herself with the confidence of one twice her years. On the eve of her pop breakthrough, she has achieved everything herself, and on her own terms. Singer, songwriter and show-pony, she has the enviable ability to excel at it all.
She’s had to. ‘Look,’ she says, straight off the bat, ‘I had a minor stroke three years ago. I’ve got heart problems. I’ve looked at the big stuff straight in the eye, had people sitting on the end of a hospital bed wondering what’s going to happen next and genuinely not knowing. I don’t drink. I don’t smoke. I can’t touch drugs. I can’t even have caffeine. I have to be confident. Because I can’t intoxicate myself with those props ordinary young people have to give them confidence.’ Amidst problems most teenagers haven’t yet to even consider, music was Jessie’s saviour. ‘When I’m in the studio sometimes, I think no, I don’t need a therapist. I just need to write a great song.’ That’s when she does it.
Alicia Keys seems to agree. A self-starting, perfectly driven songwriter, Jessie has penned for Ms Keys. Her international credentials are exhaustive for one so young. When she supported Cyndi Lauper, at the personal request of the irrepressible talent herself, she invited Jessie up on stage to duet on Girls Just Wanna Have Fun. This year’s breakout hip-hop star with the midas touch BoB appears on future smash ‘Price Tag’, already the subject of Tweeting praise from Kylie Minogue and Paloma Faith.
What is it about Jessie that attracts this blue-chip pop attention? Jessie J is simply not built as other pop-stars. Quite literally, she stands head and shoulders above her peers. When you hear an echo of Lily Allen’s street slang in her lyrics, you remember this one’s the real-deal, brought up in the inglorious backwaters of Essex and learning her street-smarts on the hop. When you hear a chorus as pop-it-like-it’s-hot addictive as one of Beyonce’s you recall the fact she can’t rely on a hard-fought party-girl lifestyle to support the myth-making. When you hear the pure, flame-grilled sass of her attitude grooving through every beat of her debut album, Who You Are, you might think of Pink for a second; then check the record sleeve and remind yourself this one is cool, too.
This, ladies and gentlemen, is Jessie J. She is her own special creation.