Carly Rae Jepsen is older than Lady Gaga, but she comes across as a teen in "Call Me Maybe"
A few weeks ago, Justin Bieber tweet-endorsed a new single by fellow Canadian Carly Rae Jepsen. No one outside of Canada had heard of her -- and then, all of a sudden, she's charting on the Billboard Hot 100. Behold the power of Biebs: "Call Me Maybe," Jepsen's single, currently sits at number eighteen. Boom! Just like that.
But "Call Me Maybe" doesn't just have Bieber to thank. The song, in all of its simplistic glory, may have needed Bieber's promotional push to appear on America's pop radar, but its longevity on local Top 40 radio, once it gains momentum, will be due to its multiple hooks. Consider yourself warned.
The song starts off with minimal production: strings, bass and a drum kick, plus Jepsen's vocals about crushing on someone hard-core and the power of young love. It's catchy as hell. And that chorus...oh, man, that chorus will be inescapable around mid-April. But before you go writing her name on all of your notebooks -- Carly Rae Lamz has a cute ring to it, right? -- you should know something about Jepsen. She's not as young as you might think.
Jepsen has been around since 2007, when she placed third in the fifth season of Canadian Idol. Turns out, she is 26 years old. We don't fault her for that -- since she's closer to our age than an eighth-grade boy's -- but let's put this in perspective. Jepsen was born on November 20, 1985. Stephanie Germanotta, better known by her stage name Lady Gaga, was born on March 28, 1986. Jepsen is older. Robyn Rihanna Fenty, aka Rihanna, was born on February 20, 1988, making her 24 to Jepsen's 26. Katy Perry was born on October 25, 1984. Perry's older, but not even by a year. So why is Jepsen being marketed toward the Selena Gomez demographic and not the Lady Gaga/Rihanna/Katy Perry age bracket? Gomez is, technically, closer to Gaga in age than Jepsen: She was born July 22, 1992.
While "Call Me Maybe" is pop at its finest -- those synthetic strings, matched with the simple lyrics, at the chorus really make the song -- it all comes down to looks. "Call Me Maybe" is no "Bad Romance," "Rude Boy" or "I Kissed a Girl" when it comes to themes, and when that's paired with the fact that Jepsen doesn't look like she's a day over eighteen, it's hard to imagine someone with such a youthful appearance singing about bi-curiosity. (Ironically, though, Jepsen's second album, the one that boasts "Call Me Maybe" is titled Curiosity. We can't believe that, either.) Imagine Selena Gomez doing that and you get kinda creeped out, don't you? Why, then, is Jepsen stylized to look like a teenager in the "Call Me Maybe" video?
We're not asking Jepsen for a disclaimer explaining that she's older than she appears. (if that were the case Madonna's new stuff would also need an age disclaimer.) We're just wondering when, exactly, pop music became as ageist for artists at the beginning of their careers as it is for those who have been around for decades. Could you imagine someone like Justin Bieber singing songs like "Baby" or "Somebody to Love," his staples, if he were 26, too? It just doesn't add up.
Then again, when you're 26 and all you need is that one perfect single to launch your career into the pop consciousness of the United States, why not aim low first? And in case you were wondering, you should call her. Definitely.
Oh, Canada: Another Canadian offering that has been around for a while now and is only starting to break is Dragonette, an electro pop band that may have had you at "Hello" last year. The three-piece band -- made up of singer Martina Sorbara, producer and multi-instrumentalist Dan Kurtz and drummer Jon Stouffer -- has been considered pop's best kept secret for a while.
Now Dragonette is really starting to gain traction, spurred by the collaborations of crossover pop notoriety, including "Fire In Your New Shoes" with Kaskade, "Animale" with Don Diablo and "Take Me Back To Your House" with Basement Jaxx (Sorbara is credited as "Martina Bang" on that one) -- not to mention the many songs Dragonette has completed with Martin Solveig, who most recently worked with Madonna as a producer on MDNA. In fact, just last night Dragonette and Solveig took home the Best Dance Recording of the Year Juno Award -- the Canadian equivalent of the Grammys -- for "Hello."
Dragonette's new single, called "Let It Go," from its as-yet-untitled third album, due sometime this summer, is released on iTunes today. "Let It Go" is the perfect pop song for your next barbecue playlist. It also goes great with mimosas.
Follow Backbeat on Twitter: @westword_music
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene with music features, additional online music listings and show picks. We'll also send special ticket offers and music promotions available only to our Music Newsletter subscribers.