Release Date: Sep 18, 2012
Record label: 604 Records
Genre(s): Pop, Pop/Rock, Dance-Pop, Pop Idol, Teen Pop
Twenty-six-year-old Carly Rae Jepsen's "Call Me Maybe" is weapons-grade teen pop; after global warming kills us all, insects will still be doing karaoke routines to it. On her second LP (she released a singer-songwriter-y debut after placing third on Canadian Idol in 2008), Jepsen breathily body-slams pillow-clutching choruses from the likes of Max Martin and LMFAO's Redfoo. Justin Bieber even floats by for the acoustic dote "Beautiful," playing James Taylor to Carly's Carole King.
I was grocery shopping the first time I heard Call Me Maybe, and I stopped in the middle of the aisle to hold my phone in the air and ID it. When the app came up with her name I felt sheepish; Carly Rae Jepsen represented to me the kind of pre-teen top 40 pop NOW critics aren't supposed to like. Thankfully, other serious grown-ups also fell under its spell, so it's a lot less shameful to admit to loving it.
Carly Rae Jepsen wasn't especially well known outside of Canada (where she was a Top Three finalist in 2007's Canadian Idol ) before she shot to stardom on the strength of "Call Me Maybe," one of 2012's definitive songs. The song's sugar-rush immediacy would have made it a huge hit at any time, but it seemed especially sweet as it topped the charts immediately following the gloomy reign of Gotye's angst-ridden breakup lament "Somebody That I Used to Know" during the early part of that year. Where Gotye's hit was all about regret, recriminations, and goodbyes, "Call Me Maybe" was an engaging hello to all the possibilities of a crush so strong it makes you do impetuous things, rising to the top of the charts just in time for summer (in North America, anyway).
Be glad that Carly Rae Jepsen isn’t reinterpreting the Great American Songbook, because for a while there, it seemed like she was going to do just that. Back when Jepsen auditioned for Canadian Idol (her parents supporting her love of music from a very young age), she came off as sweet and charming, blessed with a voice that was expressive, warm, and very inviting. Although she made it to the Top 3, she was eliminated after she delivered a bland, tone-deaf interpretation of Janis Ian’s signature tune “At Seventeen”, although luckily enough for her, she generated enough public interest with her performances that it wasn’t long before she was picked up by a label, and in 2008, her debut album Tug of War was released.
The ”Call Me Maybe” phenomenon, in which an irresistible Canadian jingle invaded America with a viral fury that any flu outbreak would envy, has put Carly Rae Jepsen in a tough spot. Peering into the black abyss of one-hit wonderdom — with the cold eyes of Right Said Fred and Kajagoogoo staring back — the 26-year-old singer has two choices for her next move: either try to ride the bedazzled coattails of her signature tune, or dare to show a little more personality to carve out a niche on the Top 40 playing field. On Kiss, her U.S.
Carly Rae Jespen’s strengths, which have been roundly declared adequate by the immense popularity of her single “Call Me Maybe,” are her simplicity and directness. The most oblique Jespen is willing to get in declaring love, which is her only goal on her second album, Kiss, is the central metaphor in the song “Guitar String/Wedding Ring”: Fish shouldn’t be out of water and birds have no business in the water. Yet the mind of a teenage girl can be a Gordian knot of misdirection, uncertainty, and desire.
This Canadian Idol runner-up's super-hit Call Me Maybe – the UK's second-biggest single of 2012 – was a polarising experience. A surprising number of people, not all of them prepubescent, deemed it to be in the Robyn league of electro-pop perfection; the rest heard a robo-track sung by a woman who needed Auto-Tune just to give her twittering some clout. On this album, her voice is still her Achilles heel; she's a 26-year-old who sounds 16, and a colourless 16 at that.
Canadian singer’s second album offers good, clean, wholesome fun. Fraser McAlpine 2012 Let’s get the big question out of the way first. No, there’s nothing on this album that will rival Call Me Maybe in the startling ubiquity stakes. None of these songs will appear in YouTube parodies about Doctor Who or the Cookie Monster, and none of them have the power to barge into people’s lives – people who don’t like pop songs, people who don’t even have ears – and force them to be aware of its existence.
To answer your question: No. Carly Rae Jepsen’s new album does not contain another “Call Me Maybe,” the pop nugget that became the summer’s inescapable hit. “Kiss” arrives just in time to capitalize on interest in Jepsen, who in 2007 placed third on “Canadian Idol.” Whereas “Call Me Maybe” invited comparisons to Katy Perry, most of “Kiss,” Jepsen’s sophomore album, smacks of Kylie Minogue’s brand of electro-pop: pleasant, sung well, and firmly in the middle of the road.