Carly Rae Jepsen and the Power of Feelings

Cody Corrall | June 2017

This is another installment of Eff Your Boys Club, a bi-weekly column highlighting and discussing the marginalized voices in music.

Carly Rae Jepsen is the unsung hero of pop music. When the Canadian-born singer took over the charts with “Call Me Maybe” in 2012, it was hard to take her seriously. She was just another young pop star singing about a crush, and there was a lot of competition, especially with the rise of Taylor Swift. The hype following “Call Me Maybe” was real. It became song of the summer and was nominated for a GRAMMY, but her sophomore album Kiss was seen as a failure in comparison. Following the release of her third studio album, Emotion, and later the EP, Emotion Side B, critics and fans alike began to see the unadulterated star power of Carly Rae Jepsen.

Jepsen’s command of pop music is even more apparent with the release of her newest single, “Cut to the Feeling”. Jepsen wrote over 250 songs for Emotion, with the help of pop legends Tegan and Sara, Vampire Weekend’s Rostam Batmanglij, Ariel Rechtshaid, and Hynes. The single is one of the previously unreleased songs, and will be featured on the soundtrack for the Canadian animated film Leap!

“Cut to the Feeling” is the culmination of Jepsen’s evolution as an artist. The single is reminiscent of her love for 80s pop and features an infectious chorus that hits less than a minute into the song. It’s an obvious contender for song of the summer, and listeners are already calling it a triumph. But, what really sets Jepsen apart from other pop stars is her focus on feelings and emotions.

Throughout Emotion and Emotion Side B, Jepsen doesn’t stray away from the pop cliches that originally shaped her career--she embraces them. Her songs are about crushes and falling in love, but instead of the focus being on the guy, it’s on the experience of it all. There’s power in feelings and emotions and experiencing life through rose colored glasses, and vulnerability isn’t something to be ashamed of. Life isn’t just about the people and the places, sometimes it’s good to sit in the energy of the moment. “Cut to the Feeling” puts this idea in full force; she tells the listener what she wants and she goes on and gets it, and doesn’t miss an opportunity to take them along for the ride.

Pop is often stigmatized as a genre because of its monetary power in the industry. People don’t take it as seriously because it’s a moneymaker, and there’s less room for individuality and artistry within that mold. Jepsen is the first pop star in a long while to challenge that mold. Her authenticity is refreshing. She has the ability to turn pop on its head while still producing the vibrant, catchy songs people crave.

 

Pop music has the ability to be honest, vulnerable and commercially successful. “Cut to the Feeling” reminds the public that pop songs can be whimsical mirrors into their own experiences, and Jepsen is changing the industry one effervescent single at a time.