I do not like this Dainty Juggernaut
I can’t say I entirely despise Carly Rae Jepsen’s chart climbing “Call Me Maybe.” That would make me sound like a kitten-drowning pedophile. I can say that I don’t like it though. It’s catchy and “cute.” It also embodies most of the things I hate about pop music.
I understand that it is impossible to not aggressively head bob or even sing along at points, because you will learn the chorus at least. I understand I will catch flak from a lot of my friends, who will call me a sour-assed curmudgeon or worse. I just find the song empty and a bit shrill, which is strange for how youthful it is trying to sound.
Maybe it was because sometimes I’m thrown, the keyboard tones tare reminiscent of Annie Lennox’s “Walking on Broken Glass;” and because I have the taste of a weathered drag queen that is one of my favorite songs of all time. Here though the false string quartet is clipped, with quick and light bass and cracking beats– I also can’t forget the dodalou dodalou that sounds like a bad flash back from Wayne’s World that caps off the chorus. On top of this of course is sugary semi-talk semi-plead vocals, that coat lyrics about wishes and missing people before they even met them and OMG things like OMG giving someone your number OMG—just shut it down, shut down that fake enthusiasm, you are 26 Carly and you have probably given someone your number before. Adjacent of her young sound the image produced around her seems to support this perfectly. She looks like the Disney answer to Lana Del Rey, who occasionally wears early Katy Perry’s clothes too. It’s a little strange.
I have no doubt that Jepsen is probably a wonderful person, she is Canadian—it is law to be a nice person. She probably even has talent under all of the production and bangs. Something is just amiss about how her song hangs in the air and haunts with is chipperness. It’s like morning birds on a hungover stroll: it would be inspiring and lovely if I wasn’t already just disenchanted by the immediate tone and if the sun just wasn’t so bright. I believe at the core of my dislike is that it is the top contender for summer time soundtracks.
The song is well designed to sunny temperaments, and I will be damned if this song does not become the song of everyone’s first half of summer. It can be likened to Nicki Minaj’s latest bid for summer jam supremacy—“Starships”—in that it was tailored for carefree moments. But where Minaj attempts to capture a whole other surf guitar mashing with fist pumping zeitgeist, Jepsen holds steady on the old tropes of adorable girl, glistening dude bods, and giggles with friends. Maybe it’s actually the simplicity of that has primed it for success, it doesn’t try to reach for anything new—just the sonic equivalent of an inconveniently itchy poly-cotton sundress flouncing in the wind. But for me, that’s what I want to go in pop music, now is an era of if not invention that at least repurposing past sounds and themes.