Emotion (Deluxe Expanded Edition)
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Carly Rae Jepsen's Evolving Pop Persona

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The verdict is out. As music critics and fellow blogger NMONDSCHEIN note, Carly Rae Jepsen has followed up on the success of her second studio album Kiss (2012) - which featured the mega-hit 'Call Me Maybe' - with Emotion (2015), a pop music album generally lauded for its overall consistency and stellar production value.


Even so, Emotion has failed to match the commercial value of Kiss, in spite of the inclusion of 'I Really Like You', which basically reformulates the bubblegum pop production value, the lyrical thematic of instant, overwhelming attraction, and earworm-y quality that made 'Call Me Maybe' the musical phenonemon that it was. Before reading the reviews, I had written Jepsen off as a one-hit wonder, anticipating her irrelevance once everyone got tired of her repertoire of catchy hooks and her take on the oft-exhausted subject matter of romantic/sexual attraction. While the production value of all her pop hits was evident, I found it quite hard to take her ouvre seriously (the bubbly, effervescent and amiable girl-next-door image she seemed to constantly project didn't really help either).


A closer listen to Emotion proves that Ms. Jepsen is mining more depth out of her subject matter, while staying true to the genre that allowed her worldwide success. The standout track for me is 'Your Type'. While she's still singing about a romantic relationship here, all the usual heady optimism one expects from a typical Carly track is gone; her lyrical persona anguishes poignantly about her realization that she's permanent friendzone material:

'I’m not the type of girl for you/ And I’m not going to pretendThat I’m the type of girl you call more than a friendAnd I break all the rules for you/ Break my heart and start againI’m not the type of girl you call more than a friend'


Jepsen's usual light-hearted touch is gone, replaced by soulful vocals that built up effectively towards the chorus. The self-reflexive lyrics demonstrate a realistic awareness of her place in the desired other's heart: 'And if you ever think of me/ I bet I’m just a flicker in your head'. 


The accompanying music video invites a meta-reading of the song as well; Jepsen could just as well be singing about how mainstream music listeners are failing to take her work seriously:



The narrator prefaces the video with commentary that invites viewers to rethink their perception of her: "Not just any young woman, no no. This one was special. On the outside, she might even have seemed less ordinary. But never judge a book by its cover". Jepsen plays a grungy, down-and-out cinema ticket booth operator who gets her earphones stolen after an alienating day at work, who then takes center stage in a down-and-out bar called 'Escandalosos' (scandalous in Spanish). Her audience gives her a lukewarm reception, but during the chorus the video presents an alternative internal vision of a glammed-up version of herself singing to a full crowd, who are all losing themselves to her music under a disco ball and tonnes of confetti. 


While I enjoyed this song, I still can't say that Carly Rae Jepsen is 'my type' of musician for now. But I'm looking foward to witnessing how her pop persona takes on new and different dimensions as she matures as an artist. 


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