By Gregory Hicks, Daily Arts Writer
Published September 19, 2012
Carly Rae Jepsen’s debut as a relevant artist has managed to put the “bubblegum” back in pop music, and all it took was a tweet from the Biebs about his discovery of a song called “Call Me Maybe.” Even with an abundance of producers collaborating on the album, the similarity in instrumentation brings each track together as part of the same Carly Rae family.
Carly Rae Jepson
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The beats might be thumping in Kiss, but additional lighthearted, high-pitched melodies in tracks like the album's second single, “This Kiss,” allow for cute, girly music that listeners can still bust a move to.
Though Jepsen is a recent hit, longtime artists like Jennifer Lopez and Christina Aguilera could learn from her. These artists let electronic music dominate their sound, rather then letting their sound dominate the instrumentation. By sticking with high-toned synths and all the other bells and whistles — pun intended — Jepsen embraces computer-driven production as a complement to her style, rather than defining it. Examples of this are heavy in the record’s first track, “Tiny Little Bows,” which is well-placed in the tracklist, immediately preparing the listener to expect a playful, lovestruck, juvenile girl. Admit it — Jepsen is fairly immature for a 26-year-old woman.
Still, the beat to each track could use some variety. The sandy kick-clap gets dull after the ten songs it’s featured in. This will most likely go unnoticed though, seeing as it's not a huge contribution to the music and most Carly Rae enthusiasts are casual music listeners.
There are two collaborations on the album, both a perfect fit for the demographic. Owl City, the male parallel to Jepsen’s sweet, innocent, synth-pop style is featured on their Top-10 song “Good Time,” while her Canadian partner-in-crime, Justin Bieber, is found on the track “Beautiful.” This adds an extra cuteness factor since Bieber is responsible for Jepsen’s rise to fame. Directioners (One Direction fans) be warned, there is some lyrical familiarity in the Canadian pop stars’ duet, with the phrase “what makes you beautiful, is you don't know how beautiful you are.” Prepare for a plagiarism war waged between 15-year-old girls everywhere.
Above all, it’s about time a pop artist started putting a hint of effort into their lyrics. Jepsen’s lyrics don't always flow too well, but she does use vocabulary that goes beyond describing what takes place in a Las Vegas strip club. The world has waited far too long for a song like “Call Me Maybe,” a song that’s iconic enough for people to incessantly annoy their friends with, to a degree almost beyond the Britney classics.
There’s even amusing lyrical content in songs that aren’t as single-worthy. “Your Heart Is a Muscle” cleverly mixes the figurative and literal in portraying the heart (love) as being a muscle that needs to be exercised. In the bonus track, “Sweetie,” Jepsen refers to her love interest as an “eighth-world wonder.” A little effort goes a long way in shifting the listener's attention from music to lyrics.
Nobody can say that something sounds like a Katy Perry, Britney Spears or Jennifer Lopez song because nobody really knows what that sounds like anymore. But now that Ms. Jepsen has proven herself as being more than a one-hit wonder, people will soon begin to hear colorful, computerized bubblegum pop and say, “This sounds like a Carly Rae Jepsen song!”