The criminally-underrated Carly Rae Jepsen
By Carlos Bilan, Staff Writer
You should know who the British Columbia-born Carly Rae Jepsen is by now, and if you don’t, then perhaps the lyrics: “Hey I just met you and this is crazy / But here’s my number so call me maybe” might ring a bell.
Interesting fact about the song: It was actually a sleeper hit as it was released in 2011, yet only gained massive popularity the following year. When Selena Gomez, Justin Bieber, and other celebrities made a parody of it, thousands of people followed suit and the whole world was dancing silly while lip-synching to the teen bop.
It was a remarkable feat that had unfortunate drawbacks, as “Call Me Maybe” became both a blessing and a curse for Jepsen. A blessing because the extremely catchy hit eventually became the best-selling digital single of 2012, accumulating 12.5 million units in worldwide sales—according to IFPI—while staying at the summit of many charts for several weeks. The curse was that, due to its massive success, the song became overplayed to the point that people got annoyed, and after the album Kiss was released—which had a lukewarm reception—her follow-up singles didn’t live up to the worldwide smash hit, so she was dismissed by the general public as a one-hit wonder.
Fast forward to 2015, when Jepsen released “I Really Like You,” which was intended to emulate the success of “Call Me Maybe.” Unfortunately, the song ended up not being as successful as hoped. This also lead to her follow-up album, E•MO•TION, flopping commercially. However, Jepsen’s E•MO•TION received acclaim from music critics and was placed on numerous 2015 year-end lists.
It was a big surprise to many, because how could Jepsen be getting such critical acclaim, especially from elitist indie critics like Pitchfork and Stereogum? The truth is in the album; from late 2015 to this very day, many have been claiming E•MO•TION is the best pop album of the decade, to which I agree. Jepsen has continued to gain a big cult following by winning the hearts of those who dismissed her and those who do not generally listen to pop music.
A meme surfaced late 2015 that revolved around videos sampling “Run Away With Me,” the glorious opening track of E•MO•TION. There are numerous variations of the song, but the most popular one depicts a seal playing a saxophone along to the intro of “Run Away With Me.” Many were hoping that the meme’s viral status would make the best pop song of 2015 a sleeper hit, but unfortunately, the song didn’t achieve the mainstream success it deserved.
In a perfect world, Jepsen’s E•MO•TION would have been as commercially successful as Taylor Swift’s 1989. In fact, some critics thought that E•MO•TION is the album 1989 tried to be, since E•MO•TION is considered the superior love-letter to ’80s synth-pop and has been commended for its cohesiveness. Even the follow-up E•MO•TION Side B was praised by critics and considered a strong work, despite the album consisting of tracks that didn’t make the final cut of E•MO•TION. In fact, Jepsen said to Radio.com that she wrote 250 songs for this album. The fact that the album has undergone a meticulous process demonstrates Jepsen’s attention to detail and her excellent craftsmanship.
Jepsen has recently released “Cut to the Feeling,” a song originally intended for E•MO•TION. Jepsen felt the song was “too theatrical,” to include in the album. Thankfully, Jepsen found the perfect home for the track as it is now in the original movie soundtrack of the upcoming animated film, Leap, coming to theatres this August. The euphoric track has been universally praised and many are calling it a potential summer anthem.
Perhaps we will see Jepsen turn the tide of mainstream pop this year. I believe that if her label plays their marketing cards right, Jepsen will finally receive the overdue recognition she deserves. I swear that, after listening to E•MO•TION, I have developed a strong love for Jepsen; I just want the best for her in life and I’m sure that most who have listened to her recent works feel the same.