An Album a Day: E•MO•TION

June 24*, E•MO•TION (Deluxe Edition) by Carly Rae Jepsen

Genre: Pop
Year: 2015
Runtime: 54:06
Total Number of Tracks: 15 (3 are deluxe exclusive) 
Songs you might know:
– “Run Away With Me”
– “I Really Like You”
– “All That”
– “Boy Problems”
– “Your Type”

*Fun fact, I actually made this my “album of the day” on the 4-year anniversary of its release without even trying. Look at me go.

My prior relationship with the album: My “relationship” with Carly Rae Jepsen’s music has perhaps changed more than my relationship with any other artist. Along with every other person in the English-speaking world who does not watch Canadian Idol, I first became acquainted with Jepsen in the spring of 2012 when the infectious pop hit “Call Me Maybe” was inescapable. At first she seemed like a bit of a one-hit wonder. Sure she had other songs, but none that capture the same magic or commercial success of “Call Me Maybe.” And the fact that she didn’t have any other new stuff on the immediate horizon seemed to solidify that impression.

Fast forward to 2015 When E•MO•TION burst onto the scene. (Okay, we’re just gonna say Emotion from now on because that’s gonna get obnoxious). I was not excited about the prospect of more inescapable bubble gum pop that would lose its charm after the first month of its inescapability. The lead single, “I Really Like You,” struck me as trite and obnoxious in spite of its fun video, which meant I was in no rush to hear the rest of the album. That did not change, even as more and more critics/random people on my fb feed started to hail this as one of the best pop albums of the year. Even as I developed a soft spot for “Run Away With Me” vine compilations, I still had relatively little enthusiasm for the album itself.

It wasn’t until a couple years after Emotion’s initial release that I took a retail job and the playlist included its fair share of deep cuts from this album. This is when my attitudes started to shift. “When I Needed You” was the first time I heard Jepsen lyrics that actually resonated with me on a deep level. It was the first time I thought maybe at least SOME of her songs had more to offer than a catchy hook.

As I’ve listened to Emotion more and more over the last couple years, I’ve come to have a lot of respect for Jepsen. I admire her ability to own what she’s good at, and not try to make her bubblegum pop music out to be something more serious than what it is. She’s one of the few acts that isn’t trying to be pop with some sort of R&B/blues/soul/folk/country/EDM/hip hop twist. She’s simply making pure, unadulterated pop music, refusing to apologize for it, and doing it pretty damn well. Even if that sort of shallow, bubblegum pop music isn’t MY personal favorite genre, there’s something to be said for the way she sticks to her guns. And when I AM in the mood for that kind of music, it’s hard to do much better than Carly Rae Jepsen and the Emotion album.

 My impression this time around: Maybe this is just because I listened to all three of Jepsen’s albums on three consecutive days, but I’m learning I enjoy her in small doses more than I do in full-album form. Certainly Jepsen knows her strengths and sticks to them: ’80s synth production. Catchy melodies. Lyrics about liking a boy. A saccharine energy that most people couldn’t pull off, but kinda works for Jepsen. That’s all well and good, and most of these songs stand up just fine on their own (“Boy Problems” kinda annoyed me at first, but I’ve grown to tolerate it). Yet despite all the positives, despite virtually every song being a damn near perfect execution of the desired vibe, I was glad to be done with it when the album ended.

Some of Jepsen’s strongest tracks on here are NOT the super upbeat peppy stuff she’s best known for, but instead the more vulnerable, even (dare I say it) SAD songs. The aforementioned “When I Needed You” is certainly one of those, and “Your Type” is another fantastic example of what I’m talking about. What’s particularly amazing is that Jepsen is able to pull off this melancholy mood without betraying her sound. Both “When I Needed You” and “Your Type” are still ’80s inspired synthpop songs. They fit in with the rest of the album seamlessly. My main complaint is that there aren’t a few MORE tracks that show this side in order to balance out all the peppier tracks that sometimes sound a little TOO similar to one another to be interesting.

Personally, I like when an album makes me think a little bit. I like when albums are emotionally and intellectually engaging, and give me a few tracks that aren’t recklessly commercial. Emotion doesn’t fit that mold, even though Jepsen is a straight up beast when it comes to crafting individual songs. Ultimately, I think Emotion is the album that Jepsen intended for it to be: a pop album that’s fun to listen to. And that’s cool. There’s nothing wrong with that. But music that doesn’t offer much beyond “fun to listen to” doesn’t really maintain my interest for almost an hour. There’s a reason they call it “bubblegum pop.” It’s sweet and fun at first, but chew on the same piece too long and it loses its flavor.

Who would enjoy it? People who like pop music should definitely listen to Emotion if they haven’t already. Even if you’re still suffering from “Call Me Maybe” fatigue, this is worth your time, IF you like pop music (that caveat is hella important). If you are into  pop music, there’s a fair chance that you will like Emotion more than I do. I just have a short attention span.

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