Jessie J is the world’s least tolerable pop star. We don’t even need to believe the stories we’ve heard backstage on The Voice, or take into account the smudge on the name of bisexuality that she is. No, just a viewing of any interview and a play of her last abysmal album, Alive (a title that can only be ironic given how lifeless it sounds) is enough to make us realise that we’d rather be stricken with Ebola than listen to her in any capacity.
Sweet Talker, then, seems like a suitable mission statement for this album, given just how much damage control Ms Cornish has to do (let’s face it, Bang Bang rode on the star power of Grande and Minaj). For some bizarre reason, we actually begin to have hope as the album kicks off: Ain’t Be Done makes you sit up with it’s fast-talking start, R&B bridge, and full-on pop chorus, while the 2 Chainz-featuring Burnin’ Up is right at the top of all her output so far. Girl can turn up when she wants to.
And then come the ballads, the banshee wail, and the over-egged self-help messages that demolish all the good work before it. Fire is filled with so much histrionics that it ends up devoid of emotion, while Masterpiece stretches the art metaphor to a dull, clichéd end. Oh, and in a supreme and typical moment of zero self-awareness, Jessie J now has a song called Loud. Go figure.
Frustratingly, when she isn’t over-singing a ballad, there’s actually some decent pop to be found among Seal Me With A Kiss and Keep Us Together. But the rest remains insincere, forced and manufactured – it’s taken about 40+ writers (no joke) to dress Jessie J into something remotely likeable, but that’s hardly akin to being sweet talked. If anything, it feels more like Stockholm Syndrome after being forcibly gang-banged.