Who is Jenny Lewis? Well, there are certainly plenty of fans out there that know exactly who she is. They are the same music lovers who have been enjoying and rocking out to almost mainstream outfit Rilo Kiley since the late 1990s. However, Lewis’ persona certainly transcends beyond the Los Angeles based band. With three solo albums under her belt, another as part of the duo Jenny and Johnny (alongside boyfriend Johnathan Rice), and a long filmography list, Lewis has been around for a while – even if the general public did not know it. Now, with the release of her latest album, Voyager, Lewis has been waking up the rest of the world to her presence, mainly due to the breakout single Just One of the Guys (official video below). On July 28th, fans of Jimmy Fallon’s Tonight Show got to see first hand how this indie chick mesmerizes with her beckoning voice and cosmic aura.
Lewis is no stranger to the spotlight. Starring in a Jell-O commercial at age three, she then went on to perform as a child actor on TV shows such as The Golden Girls, Growing Pains, and Roseanne. Perhaps one of her most well-known film appearancea was as the character Christin in 1998’s Pleasantville, starring Toby Maguire. That was the same year she founded indie-pop band Rilo Kiley alongside guitarist and former boyfriend Blake Sennett, and she has been making a name in music ever since. Rilo Kiley put out four full albums together and released a grouping of rare tracks post-breakup under the title Rkives. The band gained additional notoriety by performing for Conan O’Brien, Jimmy Kimmel and opening for megastars such as Coldplay. Anyone who has been a fan of TV’s Grey’s Anatomy, Six Feet Under, Nip/Tuck, The O.C., or Dawson’s Creek has most likely heard their tunes soundtracking episodes from these hit series.
After a practically perfect performance on July 28th, during which Lewis mesmerized Jimmy Fallon’s audience in her cool-as-hell, pastel suit (that screams of an LSD trip), a question arises… With such a lengthy history in entertainment, why now? Why does it seem that Lewis’ popularity has just shot up by about 50 percent? There can be no doubt that it has much to do with the intriguing video (which she directed) for her latest single Just One of the Guys. It seems Lewis has discovered the secret to getting attention by incorporating A-list celebrities into her art. George Michael did it with supermodels in his 1990 video for Freedom! Elton John used Robert Downey Jr. in his 2001 video for I Want Love. In fact, even Weird Al utilized this foolproof technique with his latest parody number Tacky. Anne Hathaway, Brie Larson, and Kristen Stewart all don Adidas tracksuits in this video, mugging and hamming it up as over-machismoed dudes disguised in mustaches and wigs.
All that being said, there is no question that talent has gotten Lewis to this stage. In fact, it is most likely her talent that would draw such popular female stars to the project in the first place. It is also her talent that has undoubtedly attracted The Tonight Show, which calls for only the best of the best to perform on the same platform as The Roots, who jam night after night to an enthusiastic crowd. Simply put, Lewis nailed it. Backed by an ethereal-sounding band, Lewis confidently strides through the song, capping the act by bringing out dancing female extras wearing the same tracksuits featured in the music video. Just One of the Guys may be about celebrating womanhood. It may also be about Hollywood’s double standard, regarding the unbalanced treatment of females vs. males. Perhaps it even rustles a touch of raw emotion with the lines: “There’s only one difference between you and me. When I look at myself all I can see… I’m just another lady without a baby.” But, it is the fun and fortitude Lewis exudes in this piece, which truly mesmerizes the mainstream masses as it did on Jimmy Fallon’s Tonight Show.
Opinion by Josh Taub