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Buzzed on Her Buzz: Review of Carly Rae Jepsen’s ‘Kiss’

Carly Rae Jepsen, Carly Rae Jepsen Kiss, Kiss album review

Carly Rae Jepsen, former Canadian Idol contestant (Jepsen won third place in season five) turned pop singer, created quite the buzz with her single “Call Me Maybe” off her second studio album Kiss, released in September 2012.

An article in Wired titled “Why Being Sleepy and Drunk Are Great for Creativity,” inspired The Spec to get buzzed on mimosas and write about Lana Del Rey’s debut back in February and explore Jepsen’s popular new release.

Equipped with Kiss, beautiful weather, and strong beer, mimosas and delicious eats at Angels Trumpet Ale House, we went to work. The consensus was that the 26-year-old star, who sites Bruce Springsteen, James Taylor, Robyn, Van Halen and La Roux as influences, put out a not-so-good album. Kiss was intended to be a folk production but, under the orders of Jepsen herself, turned into a pop record.

Yikes.

Watch a video recap of our day and read our thoughts on the album below…

ALEXIS’ THOUGHTS:

When Kiss was first released I looked up “Tiny Little Bows” because I’d heard a lot about the song. I remember hating it, wondering what people were thinking saying this would be their new pop anthem. But somewhere between Sept. 14 and last Saturday I listened to a lot of radio and “guilty pleasures,” and my ears and mind adapted (regressed?). Final thought: I could jam alone in my car to “Tiny Little Bows” but I’ll probably regret that statement a month from now.

As a whole, Kiss is repetitive in vocals, beat and lyrics. I feel like CRJ was specifically trying to make a dance album and in doing so focused solely on “club” beats without any regard for the meaningful lyrics or vocal quality. I can’t even begin to comment on the lyrics, other than to say they narrate a feminist’s nightmare.

The two standouts, not in musical genius or rank, but rather change of pace from the other 10 songs on the album, are “Beautiful” and “Your Heart is a Muscle.” The former because Bieber and CRJ share a vocal range and feelings are FINALLY reciprocated, and the latter because she seems to depict deeper, more sincere emotion.

I think I gave up on this album before I hit the halfway mark, thinking I’m not nearly drunk enough to listen to this straight through.


DEE’S THOUGHTS:

More than irritating and repetitive, Kiss is offensive. Prior to listening to the album in full, my only exposure to CRJ was “Call Me Maybe,” a catchy but caustic pop tune that would not go away. I tried to be impartial going into this assignment, but within the first few seconds of track one, Jepsen was sitting on my bad side, sampling a Sam Cooke original (“Cupid”) in a song about…tiny little bows. Cringe.

I don’t doubt that Jepsen has a decent voice (watch an acoustic performance), but her talent is overshadowed by mediocre dance-pop beats and disturbing lyrics:

  • “Anything to capture your attention.”
  • “I always know where you are / And you always know where I am”
  • “This is crazy love / And you know I’m gonna follow you home”
  • “I expect too much”
  • “I really need to hear you breathe”
  • “I don’t know what I’m after”
  • “ Why you gotta make it hurt so good / I don’t ever want to let you go”
  • “Dont you share your smile with anyone else but me”

I was willing to give Jepsen a break, assuming she probably didn’t write the lyrics. A quick Google search proved me wrong. Aside from two tracks on the album, Jepsen is listed (among others) as a writer. Even if she didn’t have major involvement in the lyrical process, she’s chosen to take this as her work.

I hate to be critical of a young lady doing her thing and finding success. But I also hate that young girls (presumably her fan base) may be taking notes from Jepsen’s musings. (Let’s face it — pop princesses influence impressionable little girls.)

As someone who is not that musically inclined, it frustrates me to see musicians who are flippant with their talents and willing to do whatever it takes to “make it big.” Success can be great, but when it involves masking talent and/or basing your art around what appeals to the mass market, I’d argue that it’s not that great. If nothing else, listening to CRJ’s album gave me a deeper appreciation for musicians who are making art that is dictated by their convictions and not marketing reps, strict contracts or labels.


MATT’S THOUGHTS:

I can’t believe I actually listened to this entire album. What would my high school self say? What would my friends say? Oh well! It was first suggested as a joke.

With that being said, this album wasn’t completely terrible. Whoever produced the beats and the instrumentation deserve a very quiet slow clap. It seems the album was developed for remixers, DJs and anyone who wants to get people feeling the rhythm of house music. The majority of the songs might hold their own if you could extract Carly’s lyrics. I could foresee me and my confidants dancing to some of the house-inspired beats. Alexis and I were for sure bobbing our heads to “Tiny Little Bows.”

It’s Always a Good Time” also got my head bobbing a bit too. These lyrics will not hold up to the test of time nor will they be remembered next year. However, the beats could be used and remixed. I must respect the producers for that. All in all, this album isn’t for me. In a parallel universe I hope Jepsen made the folk album she wanted to. But, I do plan on playing this album to torture my friends.


NIKKI’S THOUGHTS:

I don’t even know where to begin with this album.

Carly Rae Jepsen has gone far beyond what I expected from her, and not in a good way. Before listening to this album, the only song I had heard from Jepsen was “Call Me Maybe.” I will admit, that tune is quite catchy and I kind of want to play it ten times in a row. No? Only me? Okay. Well, you’ll be glad to hear I take that statement back now after listening to the rest of her album. It’s like listening to “Call Me Maybe” 16 times in a row.

She has the same problem in all of her songs, getting the boy she just met to notice her and fall in love with her (or sleep with her, I can’t really tell). For instance, in the song “This Kiss,” one of the lines says she’d do “anything to capture your attention.” Carly, try not to be so desperate and you’d catch a boy’s attention.

In Turn Me Up,” she says “I know what you want, but you’re reading me wrong.” I firmly believe the way you present yourself is how people will read you, and Jepsen is presenting herself to be someone who just wants to have a good time with any boy she can find and “follow home,” as she says in “Curiosity.” Don’t even get me started on “Guitar String/Wedding Ring,” in which she sings about asking a boy to take his guitar string off and tie it around her finger as a wedding ring. No boy in their right mind would insult their guitar in such a way.

In conclusion, I think it’s obvious I wouldn’t buy this album for my own listening pleasure. Let’s leave that up to you.

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