Wednesday, October 1, 2014


The Sound

Call her successful, maybe

8/14/2013

Carly Rae Jepsen brings her “Kiss Tour” to the Iowa State Fair Grandstand on Saturday, Aug. 17.

Carly Rae Jepsen brings her “Kiss Tour” to the Iowa State Fair Grandstand on Saturday, Aug. 17.

We live in a disposable society. Remember, like, an hour ago when “Gangam Style” was all the rage and the video became the first on YouTube to amass a billion views, and now everyone is like “What’s Psi done for me lately?”

No better example of this exists — musically speaking — than “American (or any other country) Idol.” Here in the States, we tune into “American Idol” in droves. Every season, people love the contestants and passionately vote for their favorites with more devotion than we vote for Presidents, and then, shortly after the season is concluded, we proceed to forget they ever existed.

There are exceptions, of course, but as a general rule, we stop caring about “Idol” winners — or contestants in general — shortly after their season ends. They might have a solid album or two drop, but sustained success is rare. Carly Rae Jepson is looking to be one of those exceptions.

It could be argued that no “Idol” contestant from any country has had the turn of fate that Jepsen can claim. Finishing third in 2007’s “Canadian Idol,” C-Rae signed to a Canadian indie label and proceeded to work on her first album, “Kiss,” which included a poppy little earworm titled “Call Me Maybe.” But, as originally written, “Call Me Maybe” was destined to be a perfectly harmless Canadian sort-of-hit.

DM Art Center

 “It began as a folky acoustic number,” Jepsen explained in an earlier interview from Boston. Eventually Jepsen’s growing pop mentality took over, and “Call Me Maybe” picked up its string-and-synth hook.

“I was really happy it was doing good in Canada,” she said. “I was really enclosed in that bubble and feeling quite content there.”

Justin Bieber, however, was not so content to leave the single in Canada. After the fellow Canadian and his then-girlfriend Selena Gomez posted a couple of tweets and a video featuring the song, the track’s popularity soared, and “Call Me Maybe” became the inescapable hit of the summer.

However, becoming a viral Internet sensation and landing a chart-topping single do not always translate into immediate commercial (let alone critical) success: Despite the song’s video garnering nearly 600 million views on YouTube, Jepsen’s “Kiss” album has sold less than 700,000 units worldwide. (“Call Me Maybe” has been more successful as a single by an order of magnitude.)

Despite being as much as a decade older than her bubblegum pop contemporaries, Jepsen is hoping to keep the ball rolling with more of the same: upbeat songs with strong vocals, so-so lyrics and saccharine-sweet hooks. The early returns suggest that it’ll work for a while longer. Though “Kiss” was almost universally panned critically, Jepsen’s follow-up single — the Owl City duet “Good Time” — has been a top-10 hit around the world.

“I definitely wanted to make a pop album,” Jepsen said, referring to “Kiss.” “My love affair with pop music has been growing stronger and stronger each year.”

The important question Jepsen will have to answer in the very near future is whether or not that growing love affair will lead her anywhere new or even particularly different. More so than most types of music, pop music is based on the fickle tastes of an ever-changing fan base. Those who experience sustained success do so by developing the ability to adapt with those tastes. But for now, C-Rae seems content to stay true to herself — as long as that truth keeps pumping out hits.

“My intention was to make an album that really felt like me and shows what I have to offer the music world,” she said.

Indeed. CV

Upper Iowa