For today’s choice, I’m going to get a little lax with chronology in order to commemorate the release of this artist’s newest album. This is a late night blast, because I’m a person who respects deadlines and also a person who is anxious because Perseverance was his least present trait in the VIA personality test he just did.
As I made my way through university, I slowly began to get more comfortable with a lot of my tastes, whether that was hobbies, fashion, or music. I was also a lot more confident talking about what I enjoyed, regardless of popular opinion, than I was in high school. High school was certainly not a scarring experience for me the way it’s portrayed in YA books or movies (or can be in real life), but I was definitely much more self-conscious and guarded when it came to enjoying things that went against the image I felt I cultivated for myself (ed note: my internal image of myself and the actual one I projected were wildly different).
Anyway, once I spent some years in university I became a lot less occupied with ensuring that I had ‘cool’ taste and more concerned with expanding my knowledge in areas I was interested in. Now, this is all basically a long and extraordinarily solipsistic way of saying that by 2015, I liked pop music. And I’m not talking about cool indie-pop, or even uncool indie-pop (She & Him where you at). I’m talking about radio-ready capital P pop music. My love of pop started earlier than 2015, with ‘Teenage Dream’ and ‘We Found Love’ and the entirety of Beyoncé’s “4,” but 2015 was the year it really exploded. And the reason for that explosion was Carly Rae Jepsen’s “E•MO•TION.”
Maybe some of you are a bit bewildered! “‘Call Me Maybe’ must’ve come out earlier than that” you say, praying time hasn’t begun to swallow you whole. You gasp: “Does that mean… she released music AFTER ‘Call Me Maybe?’ An utter impossibility!” Perhaps you have some blurry memories of that one music video that starred Tom Hanks, that couldn’t have been the ‘Call Me Maybe’ video, right? This is all very arch, of course, but generally you can be forgiven for forgetting about Carly Rae Jepsen.
After making a literally unfathomable amount of money off of the strength of ‘Call Me Maybe,’ Jepsen did the best thing you can do with that much money: she started making the art she wanted to make. She pulled producers from indie music and pop music alike, and bent them all to her will in order to make an album with a unique and singular vision. “E•MO•TION” has 80s synth and new-wave DNA all over it, but it’s true calling card is it’s unrelenting positivity and glossy sheen of happiness, both musically and lyrically. So naturally, it flopped. “E•MO•TION” massively undershot sales targets, and Carly Rae Jepsen, pop superstar, was all but gone.
Now, I’m not some sort of contrarian, nor am I a savant who has an ear for forgotten and unrealized gems. Slowly, critical acclaim for “E•MO•TION” grew and soon it was no longer a flop, but a ‘cult classic’ (read: fancy flop). I, like many others, am now a disciple of “E•MO•TION.” It’s my go-to album if I ever need to cheer up, or if I need a bit of motivation to finish a project, or if I want to pull awful dance moves in my kitchen. There are points where I’ll listen exclusively to “E•MO•TION” for multiple weeks. It’s my Desert Island Disc without a doubt — it’s just that good.
The album kicks into high gear right off the bat, with some incredibly joyful saxophone rips opening up “Run Away With Me” (memed to death for good reason). From there, we get two of the most positive kiss-offs I’ve ever heard with the title track and ‘Boy Problems,’ the latter of which has the most fun chorus to sing along to this side of “Mr. Brightside.” The first half of the album also contains the doomed and underrated lead single “I Really Like You” as well as the dancefloor romp “Gimmie Love.” The back half is even better than the first, in my opinion, with the pulsating “Warm Blood,” rafter-raising “Favourite Colour” (note correct spelling, and also listen to the deluxe edition), and sultry “I Didn’t Just Come Here to Dance.” It’s a fairly lean album at 44 minutes, and not a note is wasted or misspent. Every song could’ve been a hit, and every song is a hit in my heart. “E•MO•TION” is an album both meticulous and effortless, joyous and soul-searching, a neon smear against a pitch-black background. It’s perfect.