Last year, a Princeton University newspaper, the Nassau Weekly, published an article highlighting the charismatic, childlike, and utterly carefree candor of Carly Rae Jepsen’s 2011 smash single “Call Me Maybe.” I will be the first to admit it, “Call Me Maybe” is an objectively incredible song. Not just because it revolutionized a cultural niche and defined a generation, but because it was genuinely well-crafted. It has a catchy chorus, an addictive combination of bass and synth chords, and an overall wholesomeness to it that juxtaposes winningly with the caked-on beer and sweat of every club that has existed ever.
So last month, when Jepsen released her second studio album Kiss, I bought it as soon as it went on sale. I was not expecting perfection — all I wanted was an album that reflected the beauty and melodious sonority of “Call Me Maybe” in its entire Canadian splendor. I was not disappointed.
Kiss was filled with 15 mesmerizing songs. Unfortunately, all of those songs were “Call Me Maybe.” It was the same damn song 15 times. Track 3 is actually “Call Me Maybe,” but you couldn’t tell the difference between that and “This Kiss” (“Cause I don’t wanna miss this kiss, I don’t wanna miss this kiss”) or between that and “Your Heart is a Muscle” (“you say love’s a fragile thing made of glass but I think your heart is a muscle”). The CD still has the earnest frankness that turned “Call Me Maybe” into a seminal classic, but it lacks the ingenuity and sheer toe-tapping exhilaration that was a staple of the original. The songs are decent, just not remarkable or genre-defining. In short, Kiss is little more than a commercial parody of Jepsen’s earlier work.
And while I find it admirable that Carly Rae is peddling purity and earnest frankness in an age of Ke$ha and slutty glitter, I still find it sad that a star of her beauty and talent cannot maintain a celebrity status by simply preaching whimsical innocence. If success were solely based off of beauty, Carly Rae Jepsen would be more famous than Mao himself. Her long bangs and pale Canadian skin are sumptuous. The soft, nymphet contours of her prominent chin are irresistible. The bravery and knowing maturity that manifests itself in her music is mouthwatering. She will be my queen. She will be my Jodie Foster and I will be her John Hinckley Jr. Yet as time goes by, Jepsen seems more and more like a flash in the pan. A one-hit wonder.
But I don’t want to make the obvious argument that fame is a fleeting. That’s a dumbed-down oversimplification. Obviously, Carly Rae Jepsen, the 26-year-old Canadian pop star, is not going to have widespread fame for an extended period of time. PSY’s “Gangnam Style” has already replaced “Call Me Maybe,” and next month a new song will do the same to PSY. But she should be famous.
Carly Rae Jepsen is a very talented, handsome young woman. More importantly, she seems markedly different than her contemporaries — Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, and even Madonna sell more sex than a Brazzers pop-up ad. I just find it disappointing that Carly Rae Jepsen is a flash in the pan. She preaches heartfelt values like goodness and true love and heartbreak and childlike whimsy. And in today’s world of terror and strife and Paul Ryan and drug abuse, I think that we all could use a bit more capricious idealism.
I guess the real moral of this story is that I’m sad that Kiss sucked so much. I love when “Call Me Maybe” plays in a club: instead of awkwardly grinding to dubstep, boys and girls can enter a bubble-gum Technicolor world of romantic innocence — at least for 3 minutes and 13 seconds. It provides a rare moment for introspection in what would otherwise be a weekly drunken stupor. It prevents us from losing our humanity while we stumble between meaningless hook-ups. And now that Carly Rae Jepsen is fading from the public radar (most people only know her as the “Call Me Maybe” chick), we are left with a somber emptiness. And frankly I’m scared. I have no idea what will replace this emptiness. I have no clue as to what new cultural fad will replace our inner child.
I sent Carly Rae Jepsen this letter last week:
Hey Carly, it’s Dan again! If you ever get tired of the shameless commercial vapidity of being a non-famous celebrity writhing in the unfulfilling orgy of self-indulgence and lifeless pretension, call me… maybe (Haha). I’ll treat you right.
I didn’t send any of my hair this time. Sorry about that.
I really hope she calls me back!