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A Magazine for Sheffield

Muzak: Muzak is dead, long live Moozik

Regular readers will already be familiar with my opinions about the commodification of art and music, but even I am astounded by the continuing downward spiral that is popular music. The most vacuous and yet predictably appealing is the recently re-invented and regurgitated Jessie J. Although I can hardly deny the sheer sexual appeal of her perfectly styled and knowingly distorted pornstar looks, it's a major disappointment to see her video 'Do it Like a Dude', in which, despite having the compelling athleticism of an unencumbered 22-year-old, her desperate gyrations make her look like a misguided, krumping clown, wacked to kingdom-come on unfounded, cocaine-fuelled confidence. The track also has that synthetic, autotuned sound that makes you wonder if Jessie J was ever in a recording studio at all, or if she just turned up for the video shoot. Autotuning is the music production equivalent of MSG - theoretically it makes everything taste better, but you really shouldn't consume it.

To extend the irony, she performed an unplugged version of 'Do it Like a Dude' (singing live) at the Brit Awards 2011, accompanied by some earnest acoustic guitar player in an attempt to give her sub-literate bumpin' an' a-grindin' some artistic credibility. This performance would not be out of place on Smack the Pony or Big Train.

I can understand the commercial imperative, especially when you can find such an appealing object of desire who is readily pre-packaged for exploitation. If nothing else, the body stocking she wore to the Brit Awards will have me buying her videos on iTunes. I'll just have to turn the volume down so that her grotesque squawking doesn't put me off my rhythm.

Tellingly, her website has plenty of content, but hardly any music. It has links to all the necessary social media sites, publicity photos, behind-the-scenes videos, but 'music' is the seventh tab along and, as of January 2011, includes no songs at all, just links to where you can buy them. I did manage to find one live performance recorded on Jools Holland's Later. In this she almost looks like a music act, although I did have to trawl through the pantomime that is Dare Jessie J, where she invites 'fans' to dare her to do various carefully stage-managed publicity stunts.

No matter what might be claimed, it has nothing to do with music. Despite being voted Critic's Choice by the Brit Awards' panel of dimwits, a look at her website reveals that she has recorded a grand total of three tracks, and her aforementioned single has five (five, count 'em) remixes. However, I gather she has already established herself as a 'songwriting talent', providing by-the-numbers grunts and groans for such musical heavyweights as Justin Timberlake, Mylie Cyrus and Britney. Impressive.

Britney Spears' latest drowning-not-waving clutch at the straws of an insufficiently imagined idea of success is one of the ugliest excretions I have ever heard. Like so many of her singles, it pivots on a single punch-line, in this case: "Would you hold it against me?"

The Bellamy Brothers, writers of the universally famous "If I said you had a beautiful body, would you hold it against me?" quotation are very polite about the rape of their intellectual property, but it's not been a secret (for at least as long as the surprising length of Britney's lifetime) that a little controversy does neither party any harm, and so no wonder. I hardly think the faceless, indenti-shit songwriters that churn out Britney's miserable repertoire of wank-along hits were unaware of the Bellamy Brothers and, after all, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

And now Jessie J is to be one of them, having been invited to pen something for Slaphead Spears. I think I preferred it when songs for manufactured bands like Milli Vanilli, Boney M or Black Box were written by fat, middle-aged, white males. The idea of a beautiful, vampish dominatrix seems wrong and is only ameliorated by the fact that her songs, unlike theirs, are complete crap. It's a shame that such a genuinely talented performer as Jessie J has been so badly misled as to her writing ability. Unless, of course, it was by Lady Ga Ga, or maybe The Black Eyed Peas. I wonder, if I said she had an ugly oeuvre would she keep it away from me? )

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