Jessie J Talks Getting 'Ugly' With Propel in New Commercial: Exclusive

Courtesy of Republic Records
Jessie J

The Grammy-nominated singer also shares insights on her next album with producer DJ Camper.

For her latest project, Jessie J wants everybody to get ugly. That’s the message she and Propel Electrolyte Water are sending via the brand’s new physical fitness campaign, “Let’s Get Ugly.”

The Grammy Award-nominated singer/fitness enthusiast was invited to create a custom song that will inspire and motivate people to get their exercise on. Jessie J’s infectious chant, reminiscent of cheer squads with its “U.G.L.Y, you ain’t got no alibi” refrain, soundtracks Propel’s new television commercial premiering on Billboard before launching wide today (Apr. 12). The song itself is available on Pandora.

“I think people can get quite intimidated by a lot of the bougie-looking Instagram pages taken in gyms,” Jessie J tells Billboard. “Things out there online are often the extreme of what we’re trying to achieve. It’s like you have to look great when you work out. And that’s not the case. You’ve just got to get ugly, get sweaty, get down and get on with it. Do it for yourself.”

Check out Propel’s “Let’s Get Ugly” commercial:

The commercial’s fun, colorful approach and rewarding feel are in keeping with Jessie J’s own healthy living mantra. “For me, fitness is from the inside out,” says the singer/songwriter who has openly talked about battling various health issues from a heart defect at age nine to a stroke at 17. “So fitness infiltrated my life as a normal thing,” she continues. “But it’s important for everyone, which is why I’m supportive of any brand that pushes that.”

Jessie J is also currently recording her fourth studio album. It will be the follow-up to the singer’s 2014 top 10 effort Sweet Talker, which included the smash “Bang Bang” featuring Ariana Grande and Nicki Minaj. In addition to further detailing her fitness routine, Jessie J talked to Billboard about returning to her songwriting roots and the personal growth she’s experienced to this point: “I just want to be me.”

Her own exercise routine. I’m not obsessed with working out every day. But I do enjoy working out whether it’s cycling, running or weight training, which is my favorite thing. I’m naturally quite slim so weight training, which I started in the last two years, has helped me gain shape. I just like having fun when I work out.

Cutting sugar, her latest adventure. I do a lot of vegan protein. And I like making shakes as a meal supplement; usually having one in addition to three meals a day. I recently cut out all sugar in the last week. Some would call that an adventure, some would call it torture. I’m in the process of feeling both at the moment [laughs]. However, feeling good makes you look good and feel at your best. So if I think something will make me feel good, I’ll try it. Even a green juice. It’s about finding your own balance. What makes somebody else feel good might not be what you like to eat or do in the gym. Your fitness journey is yours and no one else’s.

Going back to her musical roots. I’ve recently let my friends know that I’m working on new music. It’s been a very incredible process for me in the last two years. With this next lot of music, I’m very much going back to my roots like on my first album [2011’s Who You Are], which was very honest. I needed to go back to where it all began; to take a break in a good, positive way. From the ages 25-30, you learn so much and grow as a person. You become who you’re going to be for a long time. I’ve also enjoyed the process of just getting back to songwriting on my own. Where I’m at with the new music, everything written thus far I’ve written by myself. I’m really proud of it. It doesn’t reflect anything I’ve ever done before, which is exciting.

It’s an album musically that I’ve wanted to make for a long time and had to find the right time. Everyone who’s heard the album so far says it’s very honest and very grown. I’m speaking on issues that a 29-year-old goes through which is different from what I’ve sung about in the past. But I have to be true to what’s in my mind and heart. I’m working with one producer, DJ Camper [Mary J. Blige, John Legend], on this cohesive piece of work. It’s a piece of music as opposed to singles and album fillers. I feel like I’m making music. I don’t know when it will be out. I’m just enjoying the process that everything happens for a reason, trusting in time and feelings.

Being inspired by DJ Camper. He’s incredible, actually insane. I met him through a friend. He’s the most incredible pianist and comes from church. He’s inspired me more than I ever thought I could be inspired. I’m so happy I found an amazing friend as well as a producer in the process. It’s been a really beautiful experience for both of us. I don’t want to talk about it too much because I get a bit emotional. But I’m so excited for people to hear the music. It’s a side of my voice that I haven’t celebrated enough.

What she learned personally during her recording break. That to compare is actually a negative. You have to focus on your own inner path and light, signature and individuality. I’ve definitely learned to act on my instincts and trust them. Valuing myself and understanding that you have to do what you love. That sounds so easy but it’s hard to do, especially in this industry. I’ve got to an age where I just want to live out my truth.