Album review: Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Kiss”


By Kaitlyn McCurdy

Carly Rae Jepsen absolutely exploded in the summer of 2012 with the help of fellow Canadian Justin Bieber and her hit single “Call Me Maybe.” With the release of her second album, “Kiss,” Jepsen aimed to prove she’s more than a one-hit wonder. Whether or not she accomplished her goal is, obviously, completely up to you, but I believe Jepsen will be sticking around for a very, very long time, no matter how annoying “Call Me Maybe” is.

Like most, I sat down to listen to “Kiss” having only heard the album’s three singles. I haven’t listened to her debut, I haven’t listened to her EP. To be honest, I probably won’t listen to Jepsen’s prior releases. I do consider “Call Me Maybe” a (very) guilty pleasure, so I jumped at the chance to listen to this album.

The first track, “Tiny Little Bows,” is sickeningly sweet. Seriously. The song reminds me of something Hannah Montana would have sang back in the olden days when Disney was actually good. The chipmunked clips of Sam Cooke’s “Cupid,” a hit from 1961, doesn’t really do much for the song either. Overall it’s just a basic kick-off track, and I was actually cringing during it. Autotune overusage, definitely.

“This Kiss” is the third single to come from this album, and it’s just as catchy as the others. Teeny bopper lines like “And your eyes are the lock and key, to my heart” secure this as another hit that will surely be overplayed on the radio. Yay.

If you don’t know “Call Me Maybe,” you’ve been living under a very dark, gloomy, away-from-civilization rock. As much as I hate the song (I really do) I still screech “I threw a wish in the well / don’t ask me I’ll never tell” when I’m driving in my car, so I guess it’s a success in that you really can’t help but sing along, no matter how pointless the lyrics are.

“Curiousity” is one of the better songs on the album. The opening lines “break a bone / got me on my knees / you break my heart / just to watch it bleed” capture your attention, simply because they sound so different from prior songs off the record. However, it’s still just a basic bubblegum pop song. Next.

Zora’s commentary of “Good Time” is spot-on. I change “Good Time” the second it comes on the radio. No other words need to be said.

The second “More than a Memory” started playing, all I could think was “why is the theme song from the Sims playing in a pop song?” After that thought, I couldn’t take the song seriously. It’s a cry for a boyfriend to come back, and it sounds like a videogame. That’s all I got out of it.

“Turn Me Up” should be a single. It’s just as catchy as the three actual singles with a better instrumental and lyrics like “you were talking so sweet, I had to taste / I wish I never tried.” The definition of a good, successful pop single is wrapped up in “Turn Me Up.” Probably my favorite from the album. Can we please make a petition for radios to switch “Call Me Maybe” with “Turn Me Up?” I’ll be the first to sign.

The title of the album’s eighth track, “Hurt So Good,” had me thinking that maybe this was finally the ballad I was waiting for. It’s not. It’s another upbeat track that just blends in with the others. Major let down. At this point, I’m wondering if a break from the same synthesized instrumentals will ever come.

That break I was just talking about comes in the form of “Beautiful” (feat. Justin Bieber). The track is a basic duet with romantic lyrics and an acoustic instrumental. It’s scarily reminiscent of One Direction’s “What Makes You Beautiful,” crooning lyrics like “what makes you so beautiful, is you don’t know how beautiful you are to me” and “you’re not trying to be perfect / nobody’s perfect, but you are to me.” However, I’ll take five European boys over two Canadian pop stars any day. “What Makes You Beautiful” makes you want to dance. “Beautiful” is just bland and the track almost put me to sleep.

The start of “Tonight I’m Getting Over You” has a post-breakup Jepsen singing “I wanna touch your heart / I wanna crush it in my hands.” What could be a solid anthem loses it’s luster with the mind-numbing repetition of the track’s title. Good try, though.

The instrumental to “Guitar String/Wedding Ring” is annoying. I found myself wanting the song to end somewhere half-way through the first chorus. Lyrics like “if you cut a piece of guitar string / I would wear it like it’s a wedding ring” just make the song mediocre at best.

The title of the album’s closing track, “Your Heart is a Muscle,” had me rolling my eyes. Um, of course your heart is a muscle. Duh. However, I was happily surprised when I realized that I finally got the ballad I’d been waiting for. Or, as close to a ballad as you can get for Jepsen. I guess it really depends on your definition of “ballad.” Anyways, the beat picks up on the chorus, but is fairly calm during the verses. It’s the most emotional song on the album. I really wish there were more tracks like it sprinkled throughout the album’s entirety, rather than just thrown on at the end, almost like an afterthought.

Overall, “Kiss” isn’t actually as terrible as I expected. I’m not going to lie and call it a good pop album like some other reviewers, because it’s not. A majority of the time, I couldn’t distinguish one song from another. Jepsen’s sophomore effort would be much better if she hadn’t focused on repeating the success of “Call Me Maybe.” It’s obvious a majority of the tracks tried to live up to the summer anthem and most of them fall short. By a mile. Three miles. The album is honestly forgettable. I am, however, interested in how Jepsen will follow-up. There’s only so much Disney-esque music a twenty-six year old can release before she has to mature, and I think that’s when we’ll get Jepsen’s best work. I guess time will tell.