Release date: May 25, 2018
Jessie J’s R.O.S.E. is a beacon of love and femininity, written for everyone.
The 16-track album is broken down into four smaller subsets (because of this, you’ll find it on Spotify under “singles” instead of “albums): Realizations, Obsessions, Sex, and Empowerment. Each album cover showcases a different black-and-white picture of Jessie J and some kind of rose: Realizations dons a pensive J with a black (probably red) rose up to her lips; Obsessions shows J lovingly coddling a white rose with its petals falling apart; on Sex, she’s holding a black rose up to her mouth like a cigarette; and Empowerment is the only cover in which J is looking at the camera, this time holding a white rose dripping with white paint.
Geniusly put together, this progression tells a real story. It’s obvious throughout all of these EPs that J didn’t try to make a political album or a statement album. She’s just doing what she feels, and it just so happens to be important.
The opening track, “Oh Lord,” discusses J’s reluctance for and confusion about her current life and fame. She asks, “why do I even sing anymore?” That honestly surprised me, but then we get the second track, “Think About That,” a sultry tune that really goes there:
All you disturb in my work and my patience
Years of grindin’, you took it, you broke it and all ’cause you fake it
You wanna be famous, say it, you wanna be famous
Using my juice, was thirsty as fuck, always late, always faded
“Think About That” and the next tune, “Dopamine,” are my favorites of the whole mix — Realizations being my favorite segment as a whole. “Dopamine” calls out everything from the missing Malaysia Airlines plane to school shootings and how we just create a hashtag to cover up our feelings: “we’re addicted to the dopamine / the only drug real people can just take for free.”
Realizations is slow, laid-back, and in the pocket, and Obsessions kicks things up a notch. It’s about puppy love and that ‘obsession’ you get over a new lover, but it’s also a feisty punch. Its an emulation of how strong feelings in relationships can be, from beginning to end.
“Petty” is the standout here: simple lyrically, the track talks about how someone “petty” is commenting on J’s pictures just to get attention, but the under-meaning of this track is what’s important; no matter how much we try not to worry about those petty people, we still obsess over them. Obsessions is about those thoughts you can’t get out of your head — good or bad — and how to accept them.
Perfectly placed right before Empowerment, Sex is about owning your body and your drives. In “Queen,” J chants, “I love my body / I love my skin / I am a goddess / I am a queen.” Yas queen.
Sex has a similar upbeat nature to Obsessions, but with harder and more urgent beats. Obsessions is manic; Sex is powerful, excited to take ownership, and unafraid to say what it wants. “One Night Lover” asserts that J can’t be a “one night lover” because “there’s so much more to me.”
Finishing out the journey, Empowerment feels like the end. Jazzy and punchy, “Glory” kicks off these last four tracks. After her journey, J has found herself a realized, accepting, sexual, powerful woman.
“Rose Challenge,” the second track, is a short piano interlude that invites the listener to reflect on their own journey and potentially take up their own “rose challenge.” It also serves as an introduction to “Somebody’s Lady,” a track about heartbreak and loss, which shows that J is still human. It’s okay to slip back into old habits and “just want to be somebody’s lady” and still be a sexy, empowered woman (or man).
And the last track, “I Believe in Love,” proves that:
I know I’ll be alright
I know that I’ll survive
I know I’ll rise above it
‘Cause I believe in love
However J thought of this concept — whatever came first, the rose or the seeds of music — it’s brilliant, and I’m upset I didn’t come up with it myself.
In the words of J: and, we’re done.