Even if you don’t know who Carly Rae Jepsen is, you probably remember her asking you to call her, maybe, or that she really really really really really likes you. But can her ability to write a hook and get you in the heartstrings extend beyond a catchy radio hit in the crowded pop marketplace in 2015? We had a long Gchat about her new album Emotion to find out.
RUN AWAY WITH ME
Sammy Maine: I feel like this should've been the first single because every first single needs a saxophone intro. It's hard to make saxophone sound cool y'know?
Kate Solomon: Can you even imagine any other pop star going 'yeah this sax riff is a good way to open an album in 2015'.
Sammy: right? And it's kinda got that Europop, thumping beat thing going on that no one else could pull off. At all. But I have to say, if I hear one more song doing that 'hey' thing I will gouge my ears out WHY IS EVERYONE DOING IT ALL THE TIME!? And it needs more 'hey!'
Kate: I blame Charli XCX. I've listened to this song so much though. I feel like it's been around for years. I like the 'feeeel like, alllll night, streeeetlights' bits. So full of longing
Sammy: It makes me want to fall head-over-heels in love. It makes me 'like' love. It's such a feel good song that really, really perfectly personifies really, really, really liking someone (sorry)
Kate: Yeah, that obsessive phase when you've just got together and you don't want to see or talk to anyone else except the person you're into. I MISS THAT. I want to run away with that feeling.
Sammy: When I first heard this song, I listened to it 13 times in a row. I thought it said 'be demented by me babe' and I was like, 'fair play'
Kate: It's a strong thing to say to a lover. The song is sort of like nondescript emotion though. "I'm Feeling Some Feelings.” It’s the song that when she finished it she decided she wanted the whole thing to be 80s influenced.
Sammy: And tbf, I thought the Eighties thing was over a while ago but she does reinvent it in a way that works.
Kate: Didn't it feel like after 1989 you couldn't do Eighties anymore? I mean the album not the year. But in a way also the year.
Sammy: Yeah, I guess CRJ went full-on Eighties though. Instead of trying-to-be-cool-80s
Kate: Yeah, more like buying the vintage desk than buying a retro rework. Weird analogy.
I REALLY LIKE YOU
Sammy: Okay, I think this is a very good song because it is being played to death and I'm still not sick of it
Kate: I prefer it as a standalone song than as part of the album. I don't think it's actually up to the standard of the rest of it – you can tell they needed a big 'Call Me Maybe'-ish comeback single and this was it. Still, the big drums are great
Sammy: It's also got that playground chant thing going for it
Kate: Shake It Off was the same. Even down to the talky bit in the middle. I find it really hard not to compare this album to 1989.
Sammy: Why though?
Kate: I don't know. I think it's because there are a lot similarities – sound, subject, "vibe" and I've listened to them both A LOT
Sammy: I feel like this one is more dancey though. For me, it's instant. Whereas with 1989, it felt more... I don't know... thought out.
Kate: Yeah 1989 was quite a controlled album
Sammy: Whereas CRJ just wants to have fun.
Kate: I feel like this one is more experimental and 'just see where it goes'
Sammy: Which is what I love about it
Kate: GOD 'Gimmie Love' is such a great song.
Sammy: I really like the effects on her vocals on this one
Kate: I love the pulsing bass. 'Pulsing' is a word I use a lot when I talk about Emotion. I think it's because it's shot through with all these allusions to banging your boyfriend, but she never quite gets up the nerve to be explicit about it
Sammy: Would it be a good album to bang to though? I feel like if you were banging to 'I Really Like You,' it might be a bit much. Also dangerous if you were keeping to the rhythm
Kate: oh no, that would be terrible. I think I would burst out laughing.
Sammy: Okay, I have a problem with 'All That'. It's the only song I skip
Kate: What's wrong with it?
Sammy: I know Dev Hynes worked on this one but it's sooooo obvious for him and I feel like he's being a bit lazy
Kate: yeah it feels like I've heard the backing track before
Sammy: He could've written 'Losing You pt 2' and instead we get a song that makes me want to drag my arms on the floor
Kate: Yeah I don't know if it really works for Jeppo. Like, if Solange sang this maybe it would be 5x better but I dunno. Maybe that's unfair. I do like the bridge though.
Sammy: Yeah, the bridge is the best part. It's not a bad song at all. I just feel like if it was during her live set, everyone would get hella bored by 1 minute in and be like WHERE ARE THE JAMS, BRING THE BANGERS BACK. CRJ is not a slo-jam lady.
Sammy: OMFG. It's 'BOY PROBLEMS'. This is the greatest song ever written
Kate: I like the club tropicana opening. It makes me want to go to a roller-disco. WITH JEPPO
Sammy: That wah-wah guitar is so good. I THINK I BROKE UP WITH MY BOYFRIEND TODAY AND I DON'T REALLY CAAAAAAAAARE. Such a simple line but the way they've structured it is so, so good
Kate: I like how it's a song about boys but also a song about friends
Sammy: I have definitely, definitely had chats with my friends that sound exactly like this
Kate: There are loads of great syncopated rhythms on this album – I love it when she comes in off the beat and then finds it again, it's so satisfying. I have no idea if I just used 'syncopated rhythms' correctly fyi
Sammy: Also, SIA wrote this one and unlike Dev, it's not that obvious that it's a SIA tune. You couldn't imagine SIA ever releasing it herself, y'know?
Kate: she's on the phone at the beginning too
Sammy: I'd say this does sound more 70s than 80s though but it still really works on the album
Kate: yeah, I remember thinking it's quite Jackson 5-y
Sammy: Did you read the review on the Guardian?. I have such a massive problem with all of the last paragraph:
In a recent interview, Jepsen described her image as that of a 'regular, really boring person'. In fairness, if you’d written a single that sold 18m copies – without the aid of the kind of blue-chip hired help much in evidence on Emotion – you too might be disinclined to worry about your lack of an outrageous, headline-grabbing persona. Nonetheless, 'regular, really boring person' is still a hard sell in a pop world packed with cartoonish Barbadian bad girls and weed-addled ex-Disney princesses devising ever-more elaborate ways of sticking two fingers up at their old squeaky-clean personae. The real issue is that a certain lack of individuality seeps into Jepsen’s music. It doesn’t really matter when you take it in three-minute doses: a single like I Really Like You is so tightly constructed that you don’t notice the weird void where the artist’s personality should be. But over the course of an album, it gradually starts to nag at you: it’s hard to see what she’s bringing to the party as a performer. Her voice is fine, rather than outstanding. She doesn’t do anything to stamp her identity on the songs: good as they are, you’re struck by the sense you could be listening to anyone. It’s one problem that all the expensive names in the credits can’t solve, a single glaring imperfection in an album of otherwise perfect pop.
Kate: I can see why someone would say it but I don't agree with it.
Sammy: I think it's unfair to say she's not an individual or that she has no personality. I think her personality really, really "shines through" as they say, on this record. I don't think anyone else could do this record (apart from the Dev track obvs)
Kate: Do you know what I think? This might sound like a cliche and a cop out, but I actually think it's easier for women to see that than men. I think she writes from a very female perspective – but, like, not in a massively relatable way unless you happen to be really quite similar to her. Which we both are and Alexis Petridis is, I imagine, not
Sammy: Possibly. It's a bit lazy to throw all female pop performers into one basket and compare them all. I get that there are going to be comparisons but arguing that she's boring 'as a person' which makes her record sound 'boring' is an irrelevant connection. When she said she's boring, I bet she meant that she likes to stay in and watch Netflix. Which does not make her a bad songwriter and performer
Kate: No. You can stay in and watch Netflix and still have a rich and varied emotional reaction to your boyfriend being a dick.
Kate: I can see what he means about it being an issue in the age of personality songwriters though. Like on Charli XCX's album, I remember thinking that some of them sounded like they were meant for someone else and that disconnect was a bit jarring. And on One Direction's album there's a Charli XCX song and I was like, this would be better if Charli had done it.
MAKING THE MOST OF THE NIGHT
Sammy: This would be a really great song to mime to. Like, when you're walking down your stairs and pointing loads because everyone does that
Kate: I love walking around pretending to be in a music video
Sammy: Doesn't everyone? This album is perfect for that.
Kate: I would lose my shit if this came on while I was out dancing. "Out dancing" is a stupid phrase but I don't feel like you can really say "at a club" and be talking about CRJ
Sammy: I “dj'd” at a venue years and years ago and played an XX song and then this group of girls were like, 'PLEASE PLAY THE WHOLE ALBUM' and so I did. And they danced for the entire time. E-MO-TION is the album that would do that for me
Kate: the drums are consistently satisfying on this album
Sammy: The layering on this one is so nicely done
Kate: I also like the music box ending
Sammy: It's a perfect pop package but not clinical.
Kate: I love this song. “I want you to miss me when I'm not around you” is basically how I feel about everyone in the world
Sammy: It's really heartbreaking
Kate: I think this is the one about being in love with your gay friend. I've definitely been in love with people who'll never be in love with me but you're like I'M STILL HERE 4 U ALWAYS
Sammy: It has that perfect blend of heartbreak but also being a banger which CRJ is so perfect at doing. PERFECT. Did I mention it was perfect? What I like about her tho, is that she can take subject matter that has been done SO MUCH but make it exciting again
Kate: Yeah! There are so many unrequited love songs but this one just nails it in a whole new way
LET'S GET LOST
Sammy: I love the synths on this one. Also, the bass on this. The bass needs a special mention on the album as a whole actually. ALSO the sax is back! Sneaky sax
Kate: What I like about Let's Get Lost is that I'm always trying to stealth date people I'm into by making them take the long way home. I'm giving away all my terrible tricks of the terrible trade of being terribly into people who aren't into me here
Kate: I didn't care for 'LA Hallucinations' at first, I thought it was a bit blah
Sammy: This is a bit sexier than the other songs. She giggles so that obvs = sex
Kate: I like the POW bass slide thingy. #technicalterms
Sammy: 'There's a little black hole in my golden cup, so you pore until I say stop'. Simmer down, CRJ
Kate: Take a cold shower. She said she tried to make this one be not about love but failed. Because she IS love, personified
Sammy: Also there's that synth thing that happens in action movie trailers when it goes to black out before a big reveal
Kate: DOLBY SURROUND SOUND POW
Sammy: 'boooooomph.' This also reminds me of Freestylers
Kate: Bom Funk MCs?
Sammy: Yes! Maybe it's the clinky keyboard synth bits. Also I'm not sure about the almost rapping thing she's doing in the background
Kate: yeah it's cheesy as hell. I bought the Bom Funk MC's single
Sammy: I did an original dance to it in my year 6 assembly
Kate: Is there any song you did not do an original dance to?
Sammy: OMG THE WOMAN IN THE BOMFUNK VIDEO LOOKS LIKE CRJ
Kate: CRJ's secret past revealed
Sammy: So annoyingly, this does remind me of 'Bad Blood,' I really really don't want to keep comparing them. Because I just ranted about how we shouldn't do that. I'm the worst
Kate: Why does it remind you of bad blood?
Sammy: Maybe just because it has blood in the title but also the pulsing synths on 'Warm Blood' are similar to the bridge on 'Bad Blood'
Kate: PULSING. I really like 'Warm Blood' and I really hate 'Bad Blood'
Sammy: I love this bit on 'Warm Blood' when they pitch her vocals down. It's like the Justin Bieber/Diplo/Skrillex song
Kate: This is the one she did with Rostram from Vampire Weekend
Sammy: Now there's a real piano bit in it. Nice juxtaposition there, Rostram. Clever
Kate: It's good isn't it
Sammy: It is so much better than 'Bad Blood'. I'm so sorry CRJ. I should never have doubted you
WHEN I NEEDED YOU
Sammy: Okay, so this could straight-up be a Bruce Springsteen / Daphne & Celeste collaboration. Which combines both of my tastes perfectly. Also it sounds like a kids' theme tune. Like Arthur maybe. There's that 'hey' again
Kate: 'When I Needed You' is amazing. Sometimes I wish that I could CHANGE! but not for me for YOU! Good karaoke song
Sammy: It's so unashamedly pop
Kate: Kind of a break up banger. I like the cheesy "you come to me... in dreams at night…" It's totally lame but totally brilliant
Sammy: So good. So cheesy. And she gives no fucks
Kate: and they say she has no personality
Sammy: I really hope people that wouldn't necessarily give CRJ the time of day give this album a go. The album honestly makes me feel so many things but mainly it makes me feel alive. I genuinely have a spring in my step every time I listen to it. It's so proud to be pop and hopefully this'll make others realise it's never a guilty pleasure to enjoy songs that make you happy; songs that make you wanna dance your ass off and songs that perfectly fit the criteria for pretending to be in a music video
Kate: I've listened to it so much and still love it. I'm not sick of it at all
Sammy: I just want to hug it. I want it to be my best friend
Kate: It totally feels like a friend
Sammy: And maybe dudes will have a hard time feeling like that? But that doesn't matter cuz more CRJ for us.
Kate: Yeah, I think men have enough music now. Enjoy your Ryan Adams 1989 cover album, dudes.
9Sammy Maine's Score