23
Jul 03

JESSICA SIMPSON — Sweetest Sin

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Nobody’s a virgin these days, and just as well — as schticks go Britney’s was one of the worst, a smokescreen working to hide (you might almost think on purpose) the fact that some of the best pop records of the time were being issued in her name. Then the records got less exciting and the gossip took over. And as for Jessica Simpson, who was pushed as the cleaner, purer, godlier Britney, she might actually have really been a virgin but nobody cared and everyone’s forgotten about her.

Now she’s back, so what? Turns out she had a second album out and nobody really noticed, turns out she got married too — so much for the virginity thing, except she never tried to be coy about that like Britney did, and ‘Sweetest Sin’ is a full-on, gale force ten celebration of losing it.

When I lost my virginity it was fumbly and rubbish, but if I’d been a model and my partner a pop star maybe it would have been as gauzy and heady as ‘Sweetest Sin’ implies. One thing Jessica gets dead-on about playing ‘the waiting game’, though – as the day approaches you can think of very little else. For all its overripe MOR glory, ‘Sweetest Sin”s soul is sweaty-palmed and obsessive. Sung by anyone else, it might just be schlock. Sung by the wonderfully unsubtle Jessica it overpowers the listener completely — it makes me think of Kenneth Williams or Charles Hawtrey in a Carry On film, confronted by a heated and unstoppable Joan Sims. That’s not entirely a good thing, but no other record achieves it.

(I downloaded this song because of the same singer’s ‘I Think I’m In Love With You’, one of the absolute belters of the teen-pop era, and mostly unheralded. That song does the same sort of thing for infatuation as ‘Sweetest Sin’ does for lust — tackle the subject in an utterly conventional but frighteningly direct way. Also, of course, I like the tunes.)

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