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Breaking onto the music scene at a young age, Jesse McCartney was eager to make music.
“When I was 16, I was so green and so naïve, and I just wanted to make an album. I was willing to sing anything and everything,” McCartney says.
A lot has changed since then. Now, with his new album, Have It All, What McCartney is finding for the first time, really, is his true musical home.
“The new album is filled with a lot of dance/electro-type, fun records. I pushed the envelope a little bit more rhythmically and urban-wise, though there are still some songs that are reminiscent of the last album. People like Sean Garrett and Tyga from Young Money [who provides a guest rap on the playful ‘I Don’t Normally Do This’] are prolific writers in the urban world and helped me to take the sound and writing to new heights.”
It’s not just a matter of turning up the production; McCartney feels like he’s finally come into his own as a singer for the first time.
“I really feel like I’m in my prime vocally. The song ‘Undo’ is the first time I’ve ever recorded a song almost entirely in my falsetto voice, which I think right now is the strongest it’s ever been. I’ve been working really hard on strengthening that part of my voice, and I wanted to stretch my legs a little bit and see if I could pull off something that kind of has an old-school Marvin Gaye-type feel.”
"I wanted to sing the kind of songs that I grew up listening to. I wanted to be a little Michael Jackson, Prince, or Stevie. I loved them so much, and loved that genre of music and wanted to be a part of it.”
It wasn't until he recorded his 3rd album Departure in 2008, that he’d allowed himself "to go against expectations and do what I wanted.” It represented a leap of faith, with no guarantee it would pay off after so much time away.
“It was a lot more pressure and people looking at me saying, ‘All right, this one’s on you!’ I don’t know what would have happened if it didn’t work. You have to be honest, trust yourself and go with your gut because the fans can spot a fake very quickly. I was determined to push myself vocally and stay in that booth as long as it took for each song. It was something that I decided I would do on my own, and it was a scary move.”
McCartney continues to do a lot of moonlighting. He’s increasingly gotten into writing songs for other artists, and one of those—“Bleeding Love,” a collaboration with One Republic’s Ryan Tedder—turned into the top song of 2008. After he and Tedder came up with it in a sudden burst of inspiration one afternoon, “it sat around in a file for like a year, until Ryan pitched it to Simon (Cowell), who wanted it for Leona Lewis. And it became one of the biggest songs of the decade. I can’t even tell you what that was like.”
And he continues to act, while admitting it’s a tough balance between that and the demands of being a full-time musician. “I love acting so much, and what I thought I would do actually when I was younger, when I started doing stuff professionally. I was theatrically trained, and I was on- and off-Broadway For fun, I was taking the money I was making from acting and putting it into demos, and that’s how I got signed. But I didn’t really expect to have a music career ahead of everything else.”
Multitalented and passionate about living his dream, McCartney has experienced success on his own terms.
“The biggest thing is that I really feel that for the first time, there are no boundaries,” McCartney says.
What kind of life would you live if you had no boundaries to your success? It starts with a great education. Let Jesse McCartney wake you up and get your day started!