Thursday, February 17th, 2011

Jessie J ft. B.o.B. – Price Tag

“I understand power to the people but everyone has to make a living,” she told Newsbeat. “I’ve had a lot of people rip music off YouTube but I won’t be able to make another album if no one buys this one. That’s what the fans have to realise. For me to be a good artist, you have to be a good fan. If you steal music I can’t then give you more because I’m not proving to the label that I’m someone that’s going to earn them money for them to keep me.”


Chuck Eddy: I dunno, I’m probably missing whatever reasons Brits among us have dreamed up to determine she’s not harmless, but I don’t recall those old J-Lo and Pink cha-ching-cha-ching bla-bling-bla-bling songs being much more catchy than this. And I’m glad Jessie isn’t just complaining about scrubs.

Martin Skidmore: She sings this pop number with a dash of reggae confidently and brightly enough (thankfully the patois of the first single is gone), and BoB is okay on his guest verse, but it feels kind of routine and uninteresting.

Zach Lyon: Oh, yeah, we definitely need another one of these songs. BREAKING: RICH PERSON WRITES SONG ABOUT HOW MUCH MONEY SUCKS. MORE AT 11.

Iain Mew: For all of its many, many faults, “Do It Like A Dude” at least stood out and made an impact, even if it was an obnoxious one. It did have me a little interested to hear what would come next, how she would reconcile the mean-spirited nature of its vague attempts at parody with a presumed interest in being a mainstream pop star herself. The answer turns out to be that she doesn’t really bother, though that’s the least of the problems with “Price Tag”. First, it’s shocking just how utterly, completely bland it is, sounding as it does like a fifth generation watering down of “Where is the Love?”. Then there’s the lyrics, which actually make it even worse. “We need to take it back in time/When music made us all unite/And it wasn’t low blows and video hos” is some Sandi Thom-level infuriating shit, and even more disingenuous than when she did it. That all of this is no barrier at all to the predetermined fast-tracking of Jessie J to number one is one of the most depressing things to have happened to the UK charts in recent years.

Edward Okulicz: I’m not normally one to notice hype. But promo for this song has been literally everywhere. Every website. Youtube. This is as close to as blanketed as a pop song has got through paid promotion. It’s as if this song has been decided as worthy of the destiny of being an enormous hit. But it’s not. Turn the radio on. Do it now. The song that’s on is almost certainly better than this. It probably has better artistry, bigger hooks and better lyrics. There is nothing original, thrilling or even enjoyable about this ham-fisted, clock-punching amalgam of cash-hating moralising from someone who can’t possibly be as poor as they’re pretending to be, financially speaking. Creatively speaking, this is completely bankrupt, and if there’s going to be a spate of this in 2011, I’m turning off the lights and stepping on my MP3 player. This is a woman bemoaning “video hos” who’s written songs for the very machine she seems to be taking pot shots at — from inside! My score does take into account how intellectually and morally repugnant the entire package is, but make no mistake, it more than earns it on how it sounds too.

Josh Love: I don’t know Jessie J’s background, so I’m just going to hope like hell she grew up dirt fucking poor, otherwise I don’t know how her white ass has the gall to blithely sing “It ain’t about the ba bling ba bling.” And I’m sure she’s giving away every penny she makes off this record, right? Of course, she tops it all off with some boring nostalgia for a nonexistent past, “when music made us all unite.” Ugh, go work in an orchard with Fleet Foxes and leave those of us in the 21st century alone.

Alfred Soto: Recording ditties designed to make the world dance is a laudable goal, but if money is no object couldn’t this pop sprite and her second-tier R&B accomplice improvise a sprightlier tune than a Natasha Bedingfield leftover?

David Moore: Hadn’t pegged Jessie J for a Tashbed wannabe who over-enunciates her slang, but that makes sense — no major objection here, but I do wish she hadn’t just snatched pieces from other songs I don’t really like (“Raise Your Glass,” “Hey Soul Sister”) and done even less with them. BoB continues to sound even older than he probably is.

Katherine St Asaph: So this is it: the golden single that’s supposed to rocket Jessie J across the pond to land in place as the next… something. A PG, twee-free Katy Perry? A female Travie McCoy? And damn it, it’s probably going to work. All the pieces are in place. It’s got Dr. Luke; it’s got B.o.B. Its chorus is built from the tonic-to-relative-minor hook that’s become a mini-trend — ay-yo, baby let’s go, you’re fuckin’ perfect, you know how it goes. And everyone loves an anti-commercial message! Especially one that skips over the gloomy anti-commercial stuff in favor of, like, love and smiling and unthreatening dancing. If you’re against Jessie J, you are against smiling! It also doesn’t hurt to throw in a nostalgia appeal for all the kids mourning that encroaching time when Music was Real. And let’s not forget the “bling” and “video ho” dog-whistling for people with a latent distrust of hip-hop and R&B. Jordan Sargent compared “Price Tag” on ILM to Train, which is telling because they share similar racefails. Remember, Train had the line “I’m so gangsta, I’m so thug,” and you were supposed to laugh and distance yourself from those thuggy Others with Pat. And remember, Jessie J’s last single had that appropriated patois, so it’s not like this is a one-off. It’s bullshit — as bullshit as the premise that Jessie J, of all people, is qualified to deliver this message, sponsored as it is by armies of flacks driving tankfuls of cash. Look, I’m all for validating the music people find engaging, but at some point we have to stand up and say this is not fucking acceptable. Or shout it, as the case will be, into the airwaves that indifferently blare this for months.

Mallory O’Donnell: Well, if it’s not about the money and you just wanna make the world dance I’ll be pleased to hear that your debut will be the first major-label release to be distributed completely free of charge. Meanwhile, in the real world we’re faced with the problem of pop music circa 2011, not est. “back in time.” We have here a pretty decent little tune that even the presence of the horrid B.o.B. doesn’t detract from. Amazing, no? Unfortunately, the chorus. Still, the message. Can I pay for the album with love? Tonight?

11 Responses to “Jessie J ft. B.o.B. – Price Tag”

  1. I would like to take this opportunity to remind everyone that “Hey Soul Sister” is a Grammy winner. Which, if anything, is another point in this thing’s favor (that’s a criterion point, not a boost to [4].)

  2. Who the fuck is arcade fries?

  3. I’m riding with Chuck on this one; I don’t like it and I don’t like her but it’s awful catchy.

  4. Definitely agree with Chuck that I don’t get why Brits are so actively offended by her. I just think that “not much worse than X or Y” still merits a 4 in this case (could amend someday to a 5, probably not a 6).

  5. I think there are more Brits giving middling scores to this than getting offended.

  6. I am offended by her enough to not bother reviewing this song!

  7. Me, Martin… who else is British?

  8. There were more Brits commenting on the previous single, most of whom (Lex aside) didn’t seem precisely offended. (Sorry, when said “this”, meant “her”).

  9. Count me as another actively offended Brit; I’d have given this a zero too. I was willing to give her a pass on her debut despite the many aggravating aspects, but this…. ugh.

  10. As far as “growing up dirt poor”, I’m not her biographer, but some cursory research makes it look as though she attended a decent secondary school in a relatively affluent, Conservative voting part of outer London; that she attended a performing art school, and that also she doesn’t smoke, drink or do drugs (so presumably when in “Do It Like A Dude” she says “gimme a beer” she intends to, idk, stare at it in a macho way or something.

    I mean, I’ll await her documentary about her tough life on DA STREETS with interest, but from where I’m sitting all signs point to poseur.

  11. Oh god, I just heard this on the (US top 40) radio. It has begun.