Carly Rae Jepsen attained cultural saturation in 2012 with the inescapable hit ‘Call Me Maybe’. ‘Call Me Maybe’ started as an acoustic song, but dressed up with some synth strings and endorsed by Justin Bieber, it was wildly successful. It showcased Jepsen as a bubblegum-pop girl-next-door, and made her Canadian Idol’s most famous graduate:
Jepsen returned with the grown-up but still filled with pop-hooks 2015 album Emotion. The album didn’t perform well enough commercially to displace Jepsen’s reputation as a one hit wonder, but it earned her unexpected support from critics and older music fans. 2019’s Dedicated continued the excellence, with critical adulation and commercial indifference.
Here are five of my favourite Carly Rae Jepsen songs:
The dance bass-line of ‘Boy Problems’ isn’t far from disco, and the introduction is perfectly low key yet dramatic. But it’s the vocal arrangement that makes this song work – the “nah nah nah nahs”. And is it just me, or does Jepsen gives out some Goblin King Bowie vibes with her mullet, sparkly outfit and occasional intense stares into the camera?
Now That I Found You
Much of 2019’s excellent Dedicated was given to calmer fare than the ecstatic pop of Emotion. But ‘Now That I Found You’ has the same euphoric lift as the best songs from her previous record, with a huge chorus, even though the lyrical focus is different – while her previous songs appeared to be about crushes, ‘Now That I Found You’ appears to be about an actual person.
‘Fever’ is taken from Jepsen’s 2016’s excellent out-takes EP Emotion: Side B. Filmmaker Max Landis wrote a 150 page essay on how Jepsen’s songs are all about longing and infatuation, and not about actual relationships, and ‘Fever’ is an excellent example of Jepsen’s modus operandi, the state of infatuation over a finished relationship. The build into the middle eight (“And my lights stay up/But your city sleeps”) is a thing of beauty.
When I Needed You
‘When I Needed You’ was the closing kiss-off from 2015’s Emotion. It’s a sign of a great album when a hook-filled, infectious song is the closer, and the way that Jepsen enunciates ‘together, forever” is a great focal point.
Run Away With Me
The opener from Emotion has earned a place in internet folklore with its seal and saxophone Vine, and would have been a better choice as a single than ‘I Really Like You’, which was a little too close to a ‘Call Me Maybe’ redux. The entire Emotion album has a 1980s vibe, but it’s especially pronounced here with the saxophone riff and cinematic feel.
Are you a fan of Ms. Jepsen? Do you have a favourite Carly Rae Jepsen song?
– Carly Rae Jepsen Album Reviews