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Friday, September 21, 2012

Carly Rae Jepsen - Kiss

Carly Rae Jepsen gained massive attention this past summer with her chart topping, number one hit on the Billboard Top 40, “Call Me Maybe.” With Scooter Braun and Justin Bieber at the helm, Jepsen’s rise to popularity was really a no brainer. The song sparked a ton of Youtube covers ranging from the Miami Dolphins cheerleading squad (which I’m sure every male has seen at least a thirteen times) as well the Harvard baseball team performing a choreographed number all while in a van on the way to or from a game. Even if you can’t stand the song or the image she personifies, there is no denying that the song is catchy and refuses to leave your brain. That said, with newfound success, it’s time to see if all this is just a fluke or if Jepsen is a voice that is going to be heard for years to come. This is her sophomore album after all and she’s not a cutesy teenager like you think she is. She is actually only a few years away from turning 30. So does she have what it takes? Read on for this week’s review of Jepsen’s new album, Kiss.
            “Tiny Little Bows” is the first track to hit your eardrum, unless you press skip, but lets not get overly technical. The song starts off promising with very poppy dance-techno production that will make you feel transported into an episode of Miami Vice. Unfortunately, that is the highlight of the song. Jepsen’s voice has no passion. She seems very monotone throughout the song, lacking that same teenage exuberance she had in “Call Me Maybe.”
The most important step for an emerging artist is not the first hit, but the second. What I mean by that is that the first hit has to be huge (obviously), but the second has to be even larger to help garner enough attention that says to people, hey this person has something to say, maybe I’ll check out their album. “This Kiss” is the second single, not counting her collaboration with Owl City.  The synths are heavy in the track—further propelling us into this 80s dance pop time warp that seems anachronistic. Stay modern, Carly. It worked before, right? It feels more like background music to a Richard Simmon’s workout video, where he tells us how great and mighty we are. I think the real problem doesn’t lie in the production as much as it does in the melody and lyrics. It’s too generic, even by pop standards. The chorus—“This kiss is something I can’t resist/Your lips are undeniable/This kiss is something I can’t risk/Your heart is unreliable/Something so sentimental/You make so detrimental…”— is ridden with frivolous lyrics. The main problem, however, is that in the first verse she talks about having a boyfriend and now she is talking to some other guy, insinuating an act infidelity; not so innocent. It’s more like a track 9 song—filler— than an actual song that should be on Top 40 radio. In short, it pales in comparison to “Call Me Maybe.”  

So what is the saving grace of this album? “Tonight I’m Getting Over You” seems to be the answer. This song has a great buildup, unlike “This Kiss,” giving it a heightened sense of emotion when the chorus finally kicks in. Lyrically, the clich├ęs are still present at times, but there is a lot more meat on the bone here. This verse especially got to the heart of it:
“Stuck in a real bad dream
And man it feels so new to me
Should be in your arms, but I'm begging at your feet
It's been a real hard night
And I just hold my pillow tight
It won't love me back, no,
It's not you and I.”
There is something endearing in what Jepsen is speaking about on this track. You believe her. If she did this for the majority of the album it would then be worth listening to again and again.
            Also, check out "More Than A Memory," if you are feeling in that sad, yet poignant mood. The melody and lyrics live up to Jepsen's potential as an artist. It's these songs that get us, the listener, attracted to seeing what else she has to offer. 
There is a lot of dross in this album. It’s not catchy like Katy Perry’s Teenage Dream. There, I said it! Realistically, Jepsen’s sound is still not fully developed at this point. Yeah, she is pop, but there is nothing about her that sets her apart from the other pop princesses. She seems lost in the shuffle. That said, good for her on making it to this stage in the game. A lot of people would give anything to be in her shoes. The next step is staying on the mountaintop. Can she stay there? In a few weeks we may have a better idea.  Until then Druggernauts! 

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