I am struggling to hold back the tears as I watch this. It’s not so much the video but the song, y’guys. Just so you know, I am ready to take down anyone who disputes the immensity of Jessie J‘s bruised ballad ‘Who You Are’ – this is easily the most important song on her breakthrough album.
The British pop siren has experienced tremendous success in the last 12 months, appropriately living up to the overwhelming press and critical support that comes when one wins the BBC’s Sound of [Whatever Year] award. Who You Are – the album – has spawned four hit singles and every one of those releases has come with elaborately costumed and wigged-out music videos that sometimes feel a little pantomime-ish.
We obviously know that this bird can sing and she definitely possesses one of those distinct voices I hope to see carry on in the industry for decades. However, it is also entirely possible for her loud and garish visual presentation to be mistaken as rather gimmicky. On the whole, I think your average pedestrian music consumer sees wild music videos and array of wigs to be a “barrier” between them and the “true authentic artist” within. Here’s where the video for ‘Who You Are’ comes to counter said confusion.
This is a relatively low-key and simple video by Jessie J‘s standards. No wigs or ornately decorated lips, no character playing or co-stars – just Jessica Cornish in a bedroom alone getting washed over by a storm. The thunder and rain happening indoors itself is a very rich visual representation of the kind of personal storm ‘Who You Are’ talks about. It’s all in your head. Or as RuPaul would say, “the calls are coming from inside the house”.
In a world gripped by a monstrously emotional ballad – see: ‘Someone Like You’ – it’ll be interesting to see if ‘Who You Are’ can tap into the same universal vein and draw out vials of success.
Jessie J will release ‘Who You Are’ in the UK on 7 November. The song has so far already reached #40 there purely based on downloads and general interest. Here in Australia, ‘Who You Are’ appeared at #86 after a local X Factor contestant warbled it in boot camp. It wasn’t great.