6 December 2017 | LiveCommunity

The return of the Space Cowboy: In defence of Jamiroquai

As Jay Kay returns to stadiums once again, here’s a reminder of why you should be excited


Written by Rosie Dodds

“Look, I know I drive a Ferrari, I’m sorry, but that doesn’t mean I’m not necessarily really concerned about some of the stuff that’s going on.” No, that’s not Bono, it’s Jay Kay, the smooth moving frontman of acid jazz band, Jamiroquai.

The quote is taken from Jamiroquai: Behind the Music, a documentary mini-series that features a frank interview with the man himself. Watching the artist lean back into his white leather swivel chair, his cigarette flicking lazily towards ashtray on the floor, you could easily be lead to believe that the frontman of a band that has sold over 30 million albums would like to keep a degree of mystery about himself.

But Jay Kay is pretty upfront with his audience; the cosmic girl in Cosmic Girl is actually a purple Lamborghini - because who wants to sit in a car with “some bloody cosmic bird just crooning away”? - and yes, for a large portion of his time working on The Return of the Space Cowboy, the musician was indeed “a little bit” off his nut. Five minutes in and the message is clear: the man behind the music is also a little bit of an arsehole.

Since arriving on the scene in 1992, Jay Kay has made it very difficult for people to like him. Whether he’s getting headbutted in the name of a brand new Bentley, calling Cheryl Cole and Dannii Minogue useless (ok, I said it, there’s definitely some truth here), or just making a tit out of himself on Top Gear, Jay Kay has managed to convince the world of his complete and utter obnoxiousness.

But then you load up the ‘Jamiroquai Complete Collection’ playlist on Spotify. You start off slow with his first single, When You Gonna Learn? It’s catchy, it’s trying to raise awareness of animal cruelty; it’s everything you want from young popstar who’s on a vague mission to change the world. You move on to his third album, Travelling Without Moving, and find yourself tapping your feet to Virtual Insanity. “Good stuff,” you might say to yourself. But when you start making your way through Synkronized and begin trying to recreate the dance scene from Napoleon Dynamite, you realise that there’s something very strange going on.

It’s not until two hours later, when you’ve listened to all of the tracks on A Funk Odyssey and Dynamite, and have set your ringtone to Little L, that you realise that you are in fact in love with Jamiroquai. Not for his svelte, sinuous hips or his elaborate headgear, but for his ability to make music that bridges the gap between an troublesome artist and his audience.

Ok, I digress; for many it will be impossible to forgive Jay Kay for all of his faults. But there’s a reason that the group sold out the Round House in less than 60 seconds earlier this year, has been sampled by the likes of J Dilla, Moodymann, and Chance the Rapper, and was picked to provide the soundtrack to the best dance scene in cinematic history. And that reason rests on Jay Kay’s capacity to make music that has a universal likability.

Sure, call him a prick and laugh at your mate who puts on Love Foolosophy on at pre-drinks, but don’t tell me that you don’t suppress the slightest urge to dance when he does.