Hey everyone, Zip! here.
I was talking with a friend the other day at a Mexican restaurant when a song that every- body on the goddamned planet has probably heard more than enough times to make their brain melt just a little bit every additional time they hear it came on the radio. Of course, I am talking about 2011’s summer smash hit, Carly Rae Jepsen’s Call Me Maybe. My friend groaned, and moaned, and complained about how much she hates that song. We talked about it a little, and according to her, there were three main reasons why she hates Call Me Maybe. First and foremost, the song is severely overplayed. Point given. Second, she hates Justin Bieber and all known associations, and for those of you who don’t know, Jepsen is a Bieber “find” for the music industry. Second point grudgingly given, because Bieber’s a punk and a prick. Thirdly, and this is the reason that I severely object to, she doesn’t like it because “The song is poorly written.” She listens to that lyric, “Before you came into my life/I missed you so bad/I missed you so bad/I missed you so so bad,” and can feel her IQ dropping. As I mentioned, I disagree- Carly Rae Jepsen’s Call Me Maybe might be one of the best Pop songs of all time, writing included.
Let me explain. First off, don’t get me wrong- I find the same line that my friend objected to equally stupid when you read it. That line makes no goddamned sense, and it does give me the feeling that it was one of the last parts written for the song, where Carly’s sitting there going, “F*ck, what can I put in here to fill up that dead air?” However, I’m an Eve 6 fan, one of my favorite bands, and as any Eve 6 fan knows, if you can listen to anything other than Think Twice and Inside Out and a couple of other songs by those guys you have to have a pretty high tolerance for stupid lyrics. Let’s face it, we live in a world where awful songs with bad lyrics pass all the time with minimal comment, like What Makes You Beautiful by One Direction, Dynamite by Taio Cruz, and Friday (Every lyric is bad. No link for Friday. If Rebecca Black were my dog I’d have to rub her nose in Friday to make sure she didn’t do anything like that in the house again.)
Song hating aside, however, having the occasional bad lyric doesn’t mean that the writing is bad- before you can make that kind of judgement you have to look at the song as a whole. So what has Jepsen done correctly? Since this is a song, let’s start with the most important part- the music. Lots of pluses here in the music column- strong base line, simple overtone that’s well placed to accentuate the lyrics, incredibly recognizable synth violin. Seriously- anyone who’s heard the song two or three times can pick out Call Me Maybe within three notes of that synth violin. Moving on to the lyrics, we see an incredible talent from Jepsen to write pop lyrics, one that I find enviable for any accomplished pop artist. The lyrics are simple, circular, and catchy. After a third of the song, the listener knows the tune of the refrain and the pacing of the stanzas, and, with a tip of my hat to Jepsen for her excellent annunciation, even the lyrics to most of the song. I heard this song most recently last night and I can recall a majority of the lyrics, and while I am a music enthusiast I wouldn’t call myself a musician. I can carry a tune with a bucket if the bucket is slightly tone-deaf. Most importantly for any pop song, however, Call Me Maybe has one significant advantage over other songs with simple music and simple, well pronounced lyrics. It fits right in with the party and club music. It’s a dancing song. The rhythm, that beat, a synth-y feel without being overdone, the fact that you can sing along to it without being a dumbass for not knowing the lyrics by the end of the first time you hear it, it all instantly screams “club music.” Hell, I wouldn’t have been surprised if clubs were Call Me Maybe-ing the very night of its release.
As a final note, let me reinforce my point that Call Me Maybe is one of the best pop songs ever written by looking into the technical sense. What is pop music? These days, pop is an genre that grows broader by the minute. A category that can support P!nk, Rhianna, One Direction, Justin “Fucking” Bieber, and Adele has to be broad and all-inclusive. Pop is a genre of music of mass appeal, designed and tailored to be heard and enjoyed by as many people as possible. Pop is a genre of music for making money. In this sense, club music becomes some of the most popular and most lucrative sub-genres of pop, and Call Me Maybe is a hit that was tailor-made for being played easily in club settings or casual settings, a hit fashioned to be catchy yet not overwhelming, a hit that was engineered to be simple to remember and vividly memorable. If it were any other genre, a song like this wouldn’t be a success in my book. However, as a member of the pop genre, it is a masterpiece, a proper work of art, Carly Rae Jepsen’s magnum opus. I’ll tip my hat to any pop song that can grace the top of the charts in 20 separate countries.