Carly Rae Jepsen - Kiss
Record Label: 604/Schoolboy/Interscope
Release Date: September 18, 2012
In the late 1980s, a pop culture phenomenon exploded with the likes of teen singers Debra Gibson and Tiffany in a new genre called "Mall Pop". These young singers would go on tours of shopping malls, bringing their bubblegum pop music right into the land of high pitched screams and squeals from teenage girls. Both singers received widespread fame for their duel to become the biggest teen sensation, gracing the covers of Tiger Beat and Teen Beat magazines, but after a few short years, their careers faded as their fans grew older. After a few listens of Jepsen's second album, Kiss seems like a flashback to an era of big hair, neon headbands and acid washed jeans.
The latest single "This Kiss" is an big 80s pop anthem with classic trance keyboards and driving electronic drums. It's a song that doesn't quite reach the level of "Call Me Maybe" gold, but it sits comfortably in the context of the album. The chorus will be sure to be stuck in your head and may even cause a few co-workers to stare at you (but that's okay, they already know your love for all things Carly Rae).
"Turn Me Up", produced by Kevin James Maher of the post-hardcore band Fake Shark - Real Zombie, is another dance pop track that stands out in the muddled middle of the album, bringing much needed life to a sea of repetitive beats. While it shares the same "four on the floor" structure of many songs on the album, it does well to showcase Jepsen's power as a vocalist, something that her last EP Curiosity lacked.
The Max Martin produced track "Tonight I'm Getting Over You" is a synth heavy dance song that lets Jepsen's vocals shine, drawing comparisons to Katy Perry's "Firework". As she sings "We're not lovers, but more than friends...", the synths slowly start to rise and then the chorus hits hard with a driving bassline. It has the potential to be a huge single for her, helping her shed the one-hit wonder tag once and for all. Max Martin has a nearly flawless record in producing top singles for the likes of Britney Spears and the Backstreet Boys and this song is no exception.
Of course, there are a few songs on Kiss that fall short. The ballad "Beautiful" featuring Justin Bieber is nauseatingly boring, but surely will be released as a future single because Bieber's name is enough to sell well digitally. "Curiosity" is a track that was previously released on her last EP and was reworked to be a more danceable version on Kiss. It really could have been left off as the new version gets lost in the mix of other stronger dance songs. Both "Curiosity" and "More Than A Memory" fall into the rut of "four-on-the-floor" beats that start to run together as the album moves along.
While Jepsen's music isn't quite up to par with Katy Perry or Britney Spears, she has that "girl next door" appeal that makes her seem like she could be that girl that sat behind you in 4th period History class. After becoming an overnight success with "Call Me Maybe", Carly Rae Jepsen has come across as likeable and humble in her talk show appearances and performances. If you aren't a fan of Carly Rae, you probably won't be converted. However, if you are already on Team Jepsen, you will be playing this record nonstop for a long time. A week after the album is released, she will head out on tour with Justin Bieber and by then, I'm sure her fans will already have her songs memorized. Hey, this is crazy, but Carly Rae Jepsen may just be your new guilty pleasure. Break out your Micro Machines and Cabbage Patch Kids. The 80's are back!
Well-written review, but I think a little more positive than Jepsen deserves. I think you were veeeeery generous with that score. Her work reeks of over-production and under-development. Her voice is serviceable, but when the lyrics make Taylor Swift and Katy Perry look deep by comparison, you either need to re-think your career or stick to Disney Channel.