Carly Rae Jepsen: Crush Patrol

Give a ring: Carly Rae Jepsen

From Village Voice:

The other night, I was on a train, sitting across from two women who were sharing a single set of headphones—communal listening for those worried about disturbing the people around them. A man of their age and interested in, if not one, both, inquired after what was filling their ears. They giggled girlishly. “We discovered a new song this weekend,” one said, “and we’re sort of obsessed. It’s called… ‘Call Me Maybe’?”

If this had been the first time I’d overheard someone not only raving about this song, but acting as if it were a particularly attractive crush object, I’d have paid the incident no mind. But it wasn’t. “Call Me Maybe”—performed by the Canadian Idol alum Carly Rae Jepsen and at No. 8 on the Billboard Hot 100 that was active as this issue went to press—has evoked sheepish grins and exclamation-point-filled blog posts from music listeners of all stripes, engendering excitement not because of the boldfaced-name antics of its proprietors but because of the way it’s sweetly arresting.

“Call Me Maybe” harkens back to the late-’90s teenpop era; it has a candy coating and feather-light lyrics, and Jepsen’s delivery vacillates between confident and defensively coy. Its upbeat hyperactivity has been somewhat absent from the radio in recent years, when Top-40 playlists have seemingly mired themselves ever deeper into the recesses of bottle-service hell, or whatever irritatingly self-congratulatory place Katy Perry might be presiding over.

Part of its appeal might lie in the way that it hooks the listener quickly: Over some plucked strings, Jepsen, her voice sounding delicate yet conspiratorial, sings about throwing a wish in a well and spotting an attractive guy clad in ripped jeans (“skin was showin'”) who just happens to be staring at her. And then—29 seconds in—the strings soar into a bowed crescendo and Jepsen lays down her pickup line: “Hey, I just met you, and this is crazy/But here’s my number, so call me maybe?” She belts this—and an assertion that there are, in fact, other “boys” after her—out in the sort of singsong way associated with clusters of kids gathering on the playground to sing taunts, making it easy for anyone to join in. (One of the women across the aisle sang the hook idly long after she and her friend had detached their mutual earbuds, as if trying to extract it from her brain via speech.) The quick path to infatuation outlined by the lyrics is replicated musically by the rapid progression to its triumphant, string-laden chorus—it’s the sonic equivalent of a cartoon character’s eyes turning into big pink hearts immediately upon seeing someone who came out of their dreams.

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