Wednesday, July 21, 2004

THANK YOU FOR THAT: Jamelia's been banging on. And on. And on. And... you get the idea:

"Gun culture does concern me - not in a personal way, but because it's so popular at the moment. In my opinion, it's an epidemic, and instead of concentrating on having bloody wars Tony Blair should be looking closer to home. It's ridiculous. Something needs to be sorted and it shouldn't be up to people like me to do something about it. I don't worry about becoming a target. I'm as much at risk as anyone else on the street - I don't see any particular threat against me. But you hear about people carrying guns, an argument breaks out and someone gets hit by a stray bullet and I think it's disgusting. I remember when I was younger people had verbal fights, but nowadays if I stepped on someone's foot I'd say: 'I'm so sorry.'"

Righto - so what would you have done in the past, Jam? Laughed? Not bothered apologising? Because if you're telling us that gun culture has had the effect of making young people more polite when they accidently hurt people, then we can't really see that as a bad thing. We are fascinated by the way you think "it shouldn't be up to people like me to do something about it" - because, you know, giving an interview to the Daily Mirror and moaning doesn't actually constitute "doing something about it", really, does it?

But if Tony Blair makes her angry, it's probably because he's not establishment enough:

"Prince Charles is such a nice guy. He's really, really down- to-earth and he knows what's going on. You think royalty are so detached but he knows his stuff - although he didn't know who Anastacia was. Meeting him was the highlight of my career. It was particularly emotional because I'm not from a privileged background. He was speaking all the time and at one point I actually thought, 'I'd really like to see Lemar perform'. But seriously, he was absolutely lovely. He talked about my career and background and said he was really proud of me. I've actually been invited to his house - but I can't tell you when for security reasons. It's a private party and I was really chuffed when I got my invite about a week ago. I don't know if William and Harry are going to be there, but I'm so excited."

Ah, bless, she really would have to kill us if she told us the date of Prince Charles' house party. Although we're shocked that the future king of this country has no idea who Anastacia is - why shouldn't he suffer with the rest of the nation? Not quite sure, either, why Prince Charles would be "proud" of Jam's career - what, exactly, has been his input into it?

"I think she [Beyonce] is a fantastic artist, but I'm my own person. Yes, there are similarities, but I'm not the British Beyonce."

Don't worry on that score, Jamelia - you're 2004's Michelle Gayle if you're anything.

"It's frustrating. I want to be the one people get compared to. I don't feel in competition with anyone. If anyone came on the scene similar to me I wouldn't feel threatened in any way, because I'm already here."

Ah, but the very idea of someone doing stuff pretty similar to the standard tunes you're knocking out - how likely is that, eh?

"I don't worry about my figure. This is how I naturally am. I don't exercise, I don't go to the gym and a lot of people call me a bitch. It's very easy for me to say, but I don't feel pressure to conform."

Well, we'll reserve judgement on this one until your metabolism ages and starts to run away from you.

"In my opinion, I have lots of money, but a millionaire would say I'm poor. You might see me in designer clothes, but - no offence - I would never pay for them because I could never justify spending that amount of money on a piece of clothing. I go to Topshop, Miss Selfridge. I still go into H&M and look out for the sales."

No offence? None taken, James. You insist on getting your designer clothes for free. You keep it real.

"I was so pleased [with the pisspoor chart entry at number 5]. A lot of people were talking about burning people at the stake because I didn't get to No.1, but it's really not a problem. I see myself as an artist with longevity. I still hope to be here in 10 years' time. I've got plenty more opportunities to get a No.1 - I'm no Peter Andre."

No, because Peter Andre had a so-so career, and then disappeared for a while, and then returned off the back off a TV show, whereas you had a so-so career, and then disappeared for a while, and returned off the back off the theme to a TV show. No similarities there at all. We're curious as to who actually was planning the stake-burnings - is this standard record company practice nowadays? Because if it is, there must be a hell of a lot of smouldering heaps round the back of 19 Management. But hold on, because Jamelia's off again, talking about making it in America:

"I think Americans can be a bit snooty about British artists, but I embrace the fact I'm from the UK and I don't attempt to do an American-sounding R&B. I do think I'm different enough to make it - or at least I'll try. It's definitely going to be next year. It's a territory that is its own little world and I'm so excited that it's a possibility."

Yes, the USA is one of those closed kingdoms, like Nepal or North Korea. We can only begin to imagine what their culture is like - can any of us even recall having heard an American pop song? We'd suggest that Jamelia prepare for her trip to this mysterious territory by watching BBC Four - they might drag up some US cinema for their world cinema slot to give you some idea of what to expect. But good luck with selling something that doesn't sound like what the American audience wants to an American audience.

"I've been single for more than three years now and I'm not actually bothered. I'm really happy, although if a guy did come along it would be nice. No guys chat me up - ever. It's just something I'm used to. Once someone gets the confidence to come up and say something, maybe I'll go on a date. I don't want to sound desperate, but anyone who is willing to take me, I'll go. It doesn't make a difference if he's famous or not - it's just whether we have a connection, someone who can make me laugh, is intelligent and likes to have fun."

I'm really, really happy being single. But please, please, please come and have a go. Please. Although - and I can't stress this enough - I'm really, really happy being single.

"I feel as if I'm living my dream. I feel fortunate and sometimes bewildered. I see people going a little bit crazy and I think: 'Right...' because I don't feel any different.

But you've just said you don't make enough cash to buy designer clothes, your single scraped in at a lowly five - why would you feel any different?

"If it all ended tomorrow, I'd be so happy I got to experience all these opportunities. I'd just go home and be a normal person.

But we thought you were just a normal person?

"I don't immerse myself in the celebrity culture. You can be here one day, gone the next, and no one knows your name."

No, you keep yourself aloof from the free designer clothes and parties with royalty of the celebrity culture. Wise move.


Robin Carmody said...

This does Jamelia a disservice, I think. Surely it's obvious that her description of the US as a "closed world" related to its disinterest in music from any other countries (only Pakistan has a greater dominance of native artists, IIRC) rather than any suggestion that it does not export its culture anywhere else?

I realise that this blog thrives on smart-arsery, and often it works, but I like Jamelia and what she's doing personally and artistically, and this piece seems a bit harsh.

Simon Hayes Budgen said...

I can see what you're saying there and, yes, maybe I was a little harsh - which amongst us wouldn't like to be asked about our backgrounds by Prince Charles? - but the America comment seemed to be a bit vague to me. If your interpretation is correct, then that might even be worse: America isn't immune to artists from elsewhere (or, rather, elsewhere that speaks either English or Spanish); it's just that very few British artists can be arsed these days to put in the work to build an American career - they can't stand going from headlining the Astoria to finding themselves back down on the lower half of a small bill in a small venue in a small town, and doing that over, and over, and over while they build a fan base. To try and suggest that America is "closed" just because it's not as simple as doing a gig in London and inviting the 3am girls is nonesense.

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