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Jessie J is a pop music veteran. The 33-year-old Brit splashed onto the scene in 2011 with “Price Tag,” and the bops have been coming ever since. From the punchy electro-pop banger “Domino” to the tectonic plate-shifting “Bang Bang” and, a personal favorite of mine, “Burnin’ Up,” Jessie J knows how to deliver a song that sticks in your head and shows off her impressive pipes. 

She continues this tradition with “I Want Love,” her latest single released earlier this summer. It’s a bright, bombastic tune, and she’s never sounded better. That’s because with this song (and the album coming soon), Jessie’s main focus is having fun. “Look, I’m 33. This is my fifth album,” she tells me. “I really just want to make songs that celebrate what makes me special and what I know I can do that some other people can’t.” 

The tracks Jessie J opened up about for Glamour‘s 5 Songs, 5 Stories column are perfect examples of this. They’re all beautifully, quintessentially her. Read on to learn the origin stories behind “Price Tag,” “Bang Bang,” and more. 

“I Want Love” 

Jessie J’s latest single is an anthemic, disco-fied ode to, well, wanting love. It has all the hallmarks of a classic Jessie J tune: a thumping bass line, killer vocals, and a shimmery, earworm chorus. It’s co-produced by hitmaker Ryan Tedder, who’s worked with Lady Gaga, Ariana Grande, and Katy Perry, among others.

I was in a relationship, and we had done this huge red carpet. Afterwards, we got into an argument, and I drove to a bar and got drunk with random people I’d never met before. You know when you’re stuck in a rut and need to do something really out of your comfort zone? You almost feel like you’re training for a fight but without fighting someone? Like Rocky, almost? That’s how I felt when I was in the bar that night. This was a couple years ago, and I just remember going into the mirror and looking at myself saying, “You deserve everything.” I was tipsy and I was just like, “You’re going to be okay.” I remember speaking to my friends and my family and being like, “I just want love. I want the fire, the passion. I want to break the rules. I want to work through things.” 

When I was with Ryan [Tedder, the co-producer] and we started talking about this idea—he already had an idea that I then teamed with my idea with this song. There’s so many people that make amazing music I could never make and vice versa. With “I Want Love,” I was like, I just want it to be big singing. I want it to feel classic, I want it to feel musical, I want it to feel timeless, and I want it to feel fun and diva-y and performance-y. The kind of thing you hear and you want to run and perform it. When “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” comes on and and there’s that guitar, you go, “Oh my God.” When “I Want Love” starts, I just see people grabbing a hairbrush and singing into it. 

“Big White Room” 

Easily one of her most emotional songs to date, “Big White Room” is based on an experience Jessie J had while in the hospital as a child. A live version of the track is available on her debut album. She tells me she could never muster up the right emotions to deliver this song in a studio—she needs to feel the audience. 

When I was 9, I had an ablation. I have WPW, which is Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome. It’s a heart disease, and I’ve had it since I was a kid. It’s weird because every time I was in hospital—as much as I was in hospital with a heart disease, it never felt like my purpose in being there was to feel like I was sick. It always felt like I was there to hold the other kids’ hands in the ward. I would be the kid that would walk around and hand out magazines. I don’t remember in my head being in pain. I know I was, and I know I struggled and I had seizure and all these things, but I never felt like I was experiencing something as traumatic as everybody else. 

So I remember sitting and watching this boy and wanting to help and feeling really helpless. That was the biggest emotion I remember feeling, as well as confusion of what was happening. I couldn’t really register the fact that he was praying to a god. I wasn’t brought up in a major religious family, so it was the first time I’d experienced someone pleading with God to keep them here. So when I woke up the next day and he’d died, I remember saying to my mom, “He asked God so nicely to stay, and he’s not here. My mom said, “Sometimes God needs his angels nearer to him.”

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