Is there a more divisive popstar working in the pop 'milieu' than Jessie J? That was a rhetorical question, obviously, because there really isn't. But, I'm not being funny right, I saw Jessica Cornish sing some songs at that Beyoncé charity 'shindig' at Twickenham in the glory days of the summer and, the 'Grown Woman (Pepsi re-edit)' hitmaker aside, J was the only person to get the crowd going.
Basically, when she wants to be, Jessie J can be a really good popstar and has a handful of bangers — 'Laserlight', 'Wild', 'Do It Like A Dude', for example — that only a moron could argue with. Unfortunately, she also has the public persona of the world's most patronising self-help guru, spouting 'love yourself' banalities and accusing anyone that criticises her of being a 'hater'. It's 'look at me, don't look at me' syndrome at its worst/finest, but perhaps this is what makes her interesting, who knows.
Anyway, I got sent a ticket to see her in the intimate environs of London's 02 and while most of my friends' reacted to the news that I was actually planning on going with 'why?', I was mildly intrigued but what she might have in store.
This is what I learned.
NO ONE REALLY KNOWS THE NON-SINGLE SONGS FROM THE NEW ALBUM
Having sung a bit of 'Big White Room' from her multi-platinum debut album to open the show, Jessie then launched into three new songs from her not-doing-that-well-really second album and basically no one really cared. I was sat behind a gaggle of kids who were so excited before the show started that I think one of them might have pissed themselves, but by the end of 'Sexy Lady' all of them were sat playing Candy Crush on their phones. When the riff to 'Domino' (seriously, what a song) finally kicked in it was a blessed relief for all involved. But, clearly wanting to ram 'Alive' down everyone's throats, it was quickly followed by another new song in the shape of the 'old school' slow jam, 'Daydreamin''.
THERE ARE GUESTS ON HER NEW ALBUM BUT NONE OF THEM SHOWED UP
Sometimes when a popstar is playing a show at a 'gig' people will review, ie the London date, they manage to persuade some of the people on their album to show up and create some added excitement. Unfortunately we all had to make do with seeing the likes of Big Sean, Dizzee Rascal and even Brandy on a big screen. Brandy's bit was particularly amusing because 'Conquer The World' is a duet and rather than Jessie J do it all herself because Brandy's busy, someone decided to just get her to mime along in front of a green screen, with that footage then superimposed onto a massive billboard on top of a skyscraper. Odd.
JESSIE REALLY WANTS US TO LOVE OURSELVES
"Always love yourself, you deserve it" is just one of a litany of self-help mantras that are delivered by Jessie in five video interludes that break up the show (they're called Awake, Love, Instinct, Value and Energy — do you see?). Each one comes across like a sanitary towel advert, with Jessie's insincere voiceover causing ripples of laughter ("can you see my truth?" she asks euphemistically at one point). She's just as bad when it comes to onstage 'banter'. "Be you, do you and love you," she demands at one point. It's sort of patronising isn't it really? I mean, I'm fine thanks for asking. I don't need saving right now to be honest.
SHE'S TAKING VOCAL RUNS TO THE NEXT LEVEL
Towards the end of the actually quite good 'Excuse My Rude', Jessie does something I have never seen a person do before in real life. Or even on TV. She pushes her gold microphone onto her larynx and then starts warbling, causing this slightly odd sound to emanate around the arena. People are sort of shocked into applause, but frankly it looked like something you'd see a slightly unhinged person with lots of cats do on Britain's Got Talent.
WHEN SHE JUST STICKS TO PERFORMING REALLY GOOD SONGS SHE'S BRILLIANT
There's a great section midway through where she does 'Do It Like A Dude' (which features a bit of the beat from 'Niggas In Paris', obviously), followed by 'Nobody's Perfect' ("NO!") and then 'Wild' and it's just really good. No gimmicks, no chat, just three really strong pop songs with massive hooks and bits where 20,000 people can shout stuff and feel that weird excitement knot in their collective stomach. Also, I'd forgotten how good 'Laserlight' is and because of its title there was an excuse to use the pop concert's biggest asset — LASERS!
A JESSIE J SCARF WILL SET YOU BACK £20
Yes ladies and gentlemen, twenty pounds.