Jesse McCartney has it all. He dances like Justin Timberlake, belts piano ballads like Lady Gaga, and writes hooks better than almost anyone in the music industry. He’s stayed in step with fans, grown as an artist, and produced dozens of pitch- perfect pop songs. So why isn’t Jesse McCartney more famous?
Jesse McCartney just wrapped touring for his latest album, In Technicolor, available now.
My friends and I have been fans of Jesse since 2004’s Beautiful Soul. The titular single topped adult contemporary radio and still gets tons of airplay. “Beautiful Soul”’s success could pretty much have set Jesse up as a one- hit wonder and made sure he had money for the rest of his life, but the singer kept going: for three albums, 13 singles, and ten years. (He also co- wrote “Bleeding Love”, that song that made Leona Lewis famous.)
Chart- wise, Jesse peaked with “Beautiful Soul”- which is remarkable because so many of his songs are so. Damn. Catchy.
Jesse has boy- band roots with the group Dream Street, the slightly younger and cleaner version of The Backstreet Boys. Hollywood Records, part of the Disney Music Group, produced Jesse’s first three albums. EightOEight records, a sublabel of Hollywood Records, produced In Technicolor. Jesse has had a lucrative relationship with Disney, contributing to numerous Disney soundtracks and compilations, guest- starring in live action television, and providing voice talents in Alvin and the Chipmunks (he’s Theodore) and the Tinkerbell franchise. He also starred in a small independent film called Keith.
Jesse’s first two albums played to the fancies of teenage girls. They include some dorky tracks. Departure, released in 2008 and re- released in 2009 with remixes and four bonus tracks, explores hip- hop and R&B. Departure has some serious winners but trips over itself in a few places. In Technicolor wins. It like sounds the product of a self- assured artist with pop music savvy and a lifetime of experience.
I can’t help but compare Jesse to the other J- name in music, Justin Timberlake. Both boys got their starts in boy bands. They both make the same kinds of music. They both have backup dancers. They both have tons of experience, and they’re both super talented.
No pop album can touch Justin’s Futuresex/Lovesounds, but The 20/20 Experience disappointed me. In Technicolor filled a void created by the 20/20 experience. I wanted a solid follow- up to Futuresex/Lovesounds full of matured pop/R&B sensibilities. Jesse did it without Timbaland, without Jay-Z and without a shitton of VMAs. Jesse works his butt off. So why isn’t he more famous?
After seeing him on tour, the answer is probably, he’s famous enough. Jesse seems genuinely humbled and honored by the screaming girls who come out to see his shows. “It’s so nice to see people are actually here on purpose,” he joked at last night’s House of Blues gig. Jesse gets plenty of work and still gets to do what makes him happy: making music. He’s had a solid career many former boy- banders should envy. Still, I can’t help but feel like such a talented, hardworking dude should be more appreciated. Still need convincing? Give a listen to some of these tracks from Jesse’s albums.
In Technicolor, Parts I & II
All About Us
Punch Drunk Recreation
Tie The Knot
How Do You Sleep? Feat. Ludacris
Crash & Burn
Body Language feat. T.I.
Right Where You Want Me
Just So You Know
We Can Go Anywhere
She’s No You
What’s Your Name?
Because You Live
Why Is Love So Hard To Find?