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June 25th11:13amMadison, WI
I receive an email:
“For your listening pleasure.”
E•mo•tion by Carly Rae Jepsen arrives in my inbox.
I could write you a straight review on Carly Rae’s new album E•mo•tion, but they’re already out there. This album has become an enormous part of my summer, I’ve really lived with it, so I wanted to write something a little more personal (and because Emily told me to write something a little more personal.)
E•mo•tion is out this Friday, but because the music industry is an absolute clusterfuck, it leaked about a month and a half ago. This kind of thing would never happen if the music industry was run by 17-year-old Twitter gays, as I firmly believe it should be, but that’s another article altogether.
E•mo•tion is the best pop album of the year, and, hell, it’s better than any pop album released last year. I’ve spent the better part of the summer with it, and I’ve basically been reviewing it any chance I can get, to anyone who will listen. I’ve included some of the highlights of my ranting below.
“Run Away With Me”
June 28th10:03am Madison, WI
It’s a Sunday morning about a month back, and I’m cramming myself into a pair of skinny jeans next to the guy who’s been keeping me up all summer.
“THAT SONG.” I rave. “THAT SOARING SAX INTRO. The minute it starts, it’s clear that the song knows something you don’t.”
You feel it from the second the saxophone fanfare announces itself. The song starts off small and teases you, slowly pulsing, growing bigger, until the last echoey snare gives way to the enormous, bombastic chorus. It’s a song that’s meant to be heard in an arena (#CarlyRaeJepsenForSuperbowl2016.)
“BAB(A)Y, TAKE ME. TO THE. FEELING.I’LL BE YOUR SINNER IN SECRET.WHEN THE LIGHTS GO OUT. RUN AWAY WITH ME.RUN AWAY WITH ME.”
He summed up the song best: “Chills.” Frankly I don’t care what sort of music you think you like. Listen to this song. “Runaway With Me” is the best thing to happen to me all summer. It’s the best pop song of the year.
July 17th11:14pm New Orleans, LA
“PUT ON E•MO•TION BEFORE I JUMP OFF THE BALCONY” Brian wails from the bathroom, while modeling his American flag daisy dukes (my mom once told me it’s disrespectful to wear the American flag “on your ass” so I’m still not sure how I feel about these.)
We’re getting ready for another night out in New Orleans. All of our windows are open and our apartment is a sweltering 91 degrees, but none of us notice because we’re sunburned and on vacation and have been buzzing for 36 hours. Sam is running around in gold lamé hot pants and I’m still unclear as to why, still not sure if he actually was, or if that was just caused my heat hallucinations paired with the 72 beers I drank that day.
“Emotion” is your new “getting ready” song. But it’s not, like, a Kesha getting ready song. The one of those rare songs that feels like it sounds. It’s about knowing you’ve stumbled onto something really, really good, and being as excited about the anticipation as you are the infatuation.
Did that actually make sense or did it just rhyme?
“In your fantasy,dream about me, and all that we could do with this emotion."
It’s less of a plea, and more of a demand. It’s so joyful that you can almost hear Carly singing it through a smile. “I feel it,” she promises.
“I Really Like You”
Okay here’s the thing about “I Really Like You.” It’s very clear that in choosing this as the first single, Carly was trying to build off of the familiarity of her inescapable, viral smash “Call Me Maybe” and streamline it into her new, more intelligent pop. The song is built around that damn earworm of a chorus.
In the same way that Taylor Swift used “Shake It Off” as her first single, Carly uses “I Really Like You” to hook you into what you’re comfortable with and lure you into something even better. Both songs are cute, pretty good, but far surpassed by almost everything else on their respective albums (E•mo•tion pretty much takes a baseball bat to the entirety of 1989, but I’m not here to compare.)
Personally, this song is all about the verses. Her “baaaby” ad lib that she sneaks in at the end of the second verse is, like, hot. That being said, there’s a low-key sexual undercurrent to not only this song, but the entire album. And I’m not just saying that because I’m a perv.
“So honey, hold my hand, you like makin’ me wait for it,I feel like I could die walkin’ up to your room.”
BUT, before you get to focus on your boner, she hits you with THAT chorus like a cold shower.
July 23rd8:32pmMadison, WI
“You’re just gonna talk shit about “Boy Problems” the entire article.”
“I am not gonna talk shit about “Boy Problems” the entire article!”
“Boy Problems” was written by Sia, and it sounds exactly the way you’d think a song titled “Boy Problems” by Carly Rae Jepsen would sound.
“Making The Most Of The Night”
July 25th 7:42pm Chicago, IL
I was finishing up having dinner with a friend in Chicago. After he watched in horror as I devoured an entire large pizza all by myself in the span of 14 minutes, he made the mistake of asking me what I’d been listening to lately. We were actually getting up to leave, our Uber idling on the curb outside, and I took him by the shoulders and sat him back down in the booth so I could look him in the face.
“Yeah so "Boy Problems" kind of sucks but there’s this other song written by Sia. It sounds like a car chase. It sounds like a panic attack. It’s urgent and a little manic and it’ll make your head spin.”
“Making The Most Of The Night” is sort of like “Runaway With Me” part two, detailing what happens now that they’re on the run. Like “Oh shit, now what?”
It’s a near perfectly crafted pop song. Melody, lyrics, production, there’s a lot there, but all the moving parts synch up flawlessly to make a pop song that’s an absolute beast.
“Let’s Get Lost”
July 29th11:38amMadison, WI
“Let’s Get Lost” supplies us with another chorus that we can’t even try to ignore. This album is full of them.
The verses are moved along by minimal production, supported mostly by layered backing vocals, until the chorus opens up like a full smile.
This track shows us another instance of Carly wanting to grab her lover by the arm and take him away ~from it all.~ Like “Runaway With Me” and “Making The Most Of The Night” before it, “Let’s Get Lost” illustrates a constant obsession with getting to be alone with someone, almost to the point of fetishizing privacy.
Carly is a celebrity, to be sure, but at the same time, there's something about her attitude, her persona, and the naiveté that comes with it, that makes her feel like just another young woman in her 20s. This makes "Let's Get Lost" more relatable coming from her than it would coming from, say, my close personal friend Kathryn Perry.
To me, one of the marks of a really good album is not always the numbers it puts up or the world tour it spawns, but how it can define a point in your life. When it's cold as hell this February and "Run Away With Me" shuffles into my headphones, it's going to throw me right back to pre-gaming in a hot New Orleans apartment, or getting dressed for a wedding in Colorado, or numerous Saturday afternoons in the middle of July, anticipating the night to come.
Carly Rae Jepsen evaded one-hit-wonder status because even though she became a viral sensation, at her core, she's an incredibly strong artist. You can be both. You can be more than one thing. She knows just how to craft a pop song, and the evidence is all over the new album.
E•mo•tion will be released Friday, August 21st.
Run Away With Tynan on Twitter @TynanBuck.