Unlike many artists releasing 80s-influenced pop music today, Carly Rae Jepsen is probably one of the few who actually has memories of that decade – as she turns 30 in November so maybe not very vivid ones – so while you could say Emotion (or E•MO•TION) is an homage to music of the 80s, there’s probably a deeper connection that allows her to build her own nostalgia. This album could be intended for people around her age.
Or maybe she just really loves cheesy 80s pop music. Emotion is the most authentic 80s pop album to come out maybe since the 1980s. It’s completely melody-driven with an emphasis on production that supports big clean beats, synths and hooks – it’s like hearing neon colours.
With I Really Like You, the first single, there was an obvious attempt to recreate what made Call Me Maybe so irresistible by going for a simple catchy melody with an intent to penetrate #internetspeak. It kind of works. The hook is simple, instant and memorable, and the repetitive “really” is transferrable – to be used while tweeting for example. But where Call Me Maybe was easy-to-digest and not particularly intrusive, I Really Like You has a higher rate of annoyance, which is likely what kept it from becoming as big as anticipated.
Run Away With Me is closer to zero on the obnoxious scale as a hard-hitting pop bop that draws you in to lets you get lost with it. Think Teenage Dream but retro. The title track is pure sugar in musical form with a hook that lasts for days. All That, the only ballad on the album, is the best example of the 80s living strong as it evokes early Madonna, Cyndi Lauper, or Paula Abdul.
And that’s just within the first five tracks. Boy Problems, track six, is the first not to be up to par with all that came before. It feels primitive in comparison. Imagine if Boys Boys Boys was on Gaga‘s Born This Way instead of The Fame. It wouldn’t fit. Things pick up again, however, on Making The Most Of The Night, the second of two (after Boy Problems) co-penned with Sia.
The presence of undeniable melodies is impressive, yet as great as Emotion is, it’s still a relatively faceless album. Despite asking “what can I say that you don’t already know?” in LA Hallucinations – which is incidentally the track with the most personality – we learn very little about Carly from this record.
In today’s celebrity-obsessed culture, that makes it challenging for her to break away from her cemented ‘one-hit-wonder’ status. And it’s unfortunate because this record could be the best and most consistent pop album start-to-finish since Avril Lavigne released Let Go in 2002. If it really could be about just the music, this album would define pop music for 2015.
Emotion is a pop album for people who aren’t afraid to like good pop music.
1. Run Away With Me
3. I Really Like You
4. Gimmie Love
5. All That
6. Boy Problems
7. Making The Most Of The Night
8. Your Type
9. Let’s Get Lost
10. LA Hallucinations
11. Warm Blood
12. When I Needed You
13. Black Heart*
14. I Didn’t Just Come Here To Dance*
15. Favourite Colour*