Who You Are is the debut studio album by English singer-songwriter Jessie J, released on 28 February 2011 in the UK and on 12 April in the US. Due to high demand and interest from fans, the release advanced by a month from 28 March, as previously planned. Production for the album took place throughout 2010 and contributing producers included: Dr. Luke, Toby Gad and K-Gee.
Who You Are received generally mixed reviews from contemporary music critics. It débuted at number two on the UK Albums Chart selling 105,000 copies in its first week. The album débuted in the US at number 11 on the Billboard 200 with first-week sales of 34,000 copies. Two singles preceded the album: Jessie J's UK début single "Do It Like a Dude" and "Price Tag", featuring B.o.B which served as the US lead single. A third single, "Nobody's Perfect", became J's third consecutive top 10 hit in the UK. The fourth single from the album "Who's Laughing Now", released 21 August 2011, peaked at #16 on the UK Singles Chart. The title track, "Who You Are", was released on 13 November 2011 as the album's fifth UK single.
A re-release of Who You Are (variably called the "Deluxe Edition" or the "Platinum Edition") was released on 14 November 2011. It includes 3 bonus tracks: Jessie's second UK #1 single "Domino", "My Shadow" and "LaserLight", a collaboration with David Guetta.Who You Are is the first album by a British female artist in history to produce six or more top ten hits in UK.
Who You Are was one of the most anticipated releases of 2011 due to Jessie J winning the Critics Choice award at the 2011 BRIT Awards and topping the BBC's Sound of 2011 poll. On Twitter, Jessie J confirmed that it took her 6 years to completely finish the album - it was completed on 19 January 2011. In an interview Jessie J stated that she wrote her first song, "Big White Room", at the age of 17, about when she was in hospital, at 11 years old. A ward mate of hers, a little boy, died. She recalls waking up in the middle of the night and seeing him praying, and her mother explaining that he was having an operation the next day and was asking God to save him. "He died the next day so I said to my mum 'but God didn't save him'. I was so angry and it really confused me. I always wanted to write a song about the experience, but I knew I had to be of an age where it wasn't tacky or depressing and had a lightness to it." She prefers the song with just an acoustic guitar; stripped down and bare.
The album's title track, "Who You Are", was released to the US iTunes Store on 22 February 2011. It is the song from the album of which she is proudest. It's the song that draws the most messages from fans, on YouTube, Twitter and Facebook. "The other day I had a girl message me saying 'I was ready to take my life and then I heard "Who You Are"'. That pressure is beautiful but scary at the same time. I want to be a positive role model for young people. I always say that I'm half-artist, half-therapist", she laughs. She wrote the song at the end of a lonely three-month trip to Los Angeles when she was 20, having been shunted from studio to studio with various producers. "I'm very much someone that lives to be happy. It's not just about the parties and I know so-and-so – I'm not that girl. So I looked in the mirror and started to cry and said 'who am I?' Music is my therapy."
Upon its release, Who You Are received mixed reviews from critics. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album received an average score of 51, based on 23 reviews, which indicates "mixed or average reviews", while aggregating website AnyDecentMusic? reports a score of 4.9 based on 17 professional reviews. Daisy Bowie Sell of The Daily Telegraph complimented Cornish's "big voice and ballsy attitude" and wrote that the album "switches effortlessly from R&B ballads to punchy rap tunes". Kitty Empire of The Observer noticed that Cornish "remains relatively quirky throughout" and found Who You Are "impressive, if not entirely lovable". Caroline Sullivan of The Guardian wrote that it "brims with infectious, Americanised songs, delivered with a confidence money can't buy", but criticised the slower songs saying that "divested of the slowies, this would have been a fine pop record". Andy Gill from The Independent noticed "the distinctly transatlantic nature of her style" and praised the songs "Do It Like a Dude" and "Who's Laughing Now" "whose lithe, funky groove carries her dismissal of the schoolyard bullies", while criticizing other tracks such as "Casualty Of Love" and "Rainbow", calling them "unimpressive" and "tricked out with the showy vocal bling favoured by R&B divas as a substitute for genuine soul". Johnny Dee of Virgin Media found the album "a bit patchy"; he felt that "when Jessie is having fun she's unstoppable", but noted that "the album's problems come when Jessie overdoes the vocal warbling and completely forgets to write an actual song". However, he concluded by stating that Cornish will be "[one of] the biggest and coolest UK female artists for decades". Mischa Pearlman of Yahoo! Music wrote that the album "doesn't entirely deliver, but even when its songs fall short of the promised hype, their potential is obvious" and stated that "next time, she'll be one step closer to getting it spot on".
Mike Diver of BBC Music gave a mixed review, writing that "the songs of Who You Are are expectedly split between slower, slushier affairs and punchy anthems for bolshy teens" and called the album "too patchy, too hurried, the powers behind it too eager to capitalise on the artist's current chart success", although he felt that "there's ample room for improvement". Ailbhe Malone from NME described it as "cheeky, relevant, and fresh [...] but unfortunately [...] a flash that's shortly over" and noticed that "no matter how much Jessie J sings about being herself, we don't really ever get a sense of who, or what, that is". Gary McGinley of No Ripcord called it "an album of two halves as the stronger brat-pop moments soon give way to by insipid, dated ballads"; he noted that "there are glimpses of promise scattered between the overwrought delivery and unnecessary vocal gymnastics", but concluded by saying that Who You Are "promised much more than what has been delivered". Fiona Shepherd of The Scotsman wrote that it "covers all the tried and tested commercial territory: mainly a slick, generic imitation of American R&B divas [...] blended with the obligatory hip-pop stance" and felt that Cornish "is more interested in tiresome vocal showboating than communicating anything truthful". Eric Henderson from Slant Magazine agreed, saying that "in the quest to find herself, she seems to have gotten sidetracked". Matthew Perpetua of Pitchfork Media was particularly critical; he felt that "the music is scattered, covering all the bases in an over-eager attempt to prove vocal chops" and noticed that Cornish "comes across like a severely dumbed-down Lily Allen at best, and at worst she seems like someone you would want to root against in a televised singing competition". Sean Adams of Drowned in Sound was equally negative; he wrote that the album "is riddled with so-called vocal performances that are a half a step above an X Factor audition", called it "a starchy soulless slop" and eventually described it as "an 'urban' 'pop' record made to fade in the background in lobbies and cafes, and, yeah, mandem-mandem, squawk, squawk".
The album débuted at number eleven on the Billboard 200, with first-week sales of 34,000 copies. In Australia, the album peaked at number four. It has since been certified gold by the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) for shipments of 35,000 units. The album débuted at number 30 in Denmark on 11 March 2011. The following week it reached number 33, before leaving the chart. On 12 August, Who Are You re-entered the chart at number ten. In its fifth week on the chart the reached number five, archiving a new peak position. On November 2011 it was revealed that Who You Are was the biggest selling début album of 2011 in the UK.
As of April 2012, sales of the album have reached 2,500,000 worldwide.
The second single, the B.o.B-assisted "Price Tag", was released on 30 January 2011 - also serving as the album's lead US single. The single went on to peak at number one on 6 February 2011, giving Jessie her second top-three hit in the UK. "Price Tag" became Jessie's breakout international hit, also peaking at number one in Australia, Ireland and New Zealand.
"Nobody's Perfect," one of her three favourite tracks from Who You Are, was released as the album's third single. It became Jessie's third consecutive top-ten hit in the UK peaking at number nine, performing similarly in Australia and New Zealand. In Ireland it became Jessie's third single to reach the top-fifteen.
Initially Jessie confirmed the album's title track as the fourth single, during an interview with Digital Spy on 18 May 2011. However, Jessie revealed that UK fans had pushed her towards releasing. "Who's Laughing Now" instead, because of the sentiments against bullying. The video for "Who's Laughing Now" premiered on YouTube on 10 August 2011. It was released as the fourth single from the album on 26 August 2011 and peaked at number sixteen.
"Domino" was released in the United States as Jessie's second single on 29 August 2011, and peaked at number six - her highest charting single in the US. Elsewhere, it was released as the album's fifth single. The track also appears on the platinum edition of Who You Are and was released in the UK on 27 February 2012 as the album's fifth single followed by the title track. "Domino" peaked at number-one in the UK and Ireland, also reaching the top five in New Zealand and Australia.
The title track, "Who You Are", was released on 13 November 2011 as the sixth official single, and fifth UK single. It became Jessie's fifth top 10 hit when it peaked at number eight in December 2011.
The seventh single to be released from Who You Are, "LaserLight", became her sixth top ten single from the album, making her the first British female artist to have six top ten singles on one album. The song premiered on Capital FM on 29 March 2012. It was released as a digital download on 4 May 2012.