Credit: Matt Erwin

Sweet Talker

Something about Jessie J has always felt a bit off. The British-born singer’s handful of Stateside hits, including ”Price Tag” and ”Domino,” had all the trappings of radio staples, but there was something slightly labored about the whole endeavor — a fussiness that made her pop stardom look and feel like work.

Then came ”Bang Bang,” the late-summer juggernaut that served as Sweet Talker‘s lead-single calling card. Guests Ariana Grande and Nicki Minaj lent the song their headliner status (and a memorable VMAs moment), but the core of it still belongs to J and her newly discovered charisma. Sweet may not be her best release, but her attitude is so much looser this time around that even the filler gets elevated. And the ready-made singles kill: In addition to ”Bang Bang,” there’s the double-time 2 Chainz collab ”Burnin’ Up,” the triumphant opener ”Ain’t Been Done,” and the inevitable girl-power anthem ”Masterpiece.” Best of all, she doesn’t force the stuff in between; instead, she merely shrugs off the record’s more repetitive melodies with casual grace and moves on. It turns out all Jessie J needed to make a leap forward was to take a few steps back. B

Best Tracks:
”Said Too Much”
”Bang Bang”

Sweet Talker
  • Music