There were two responses to Carly Rae Jepsen‘s unexpected inclusion on the debut Sandtunes lineup yesterday. One was elation. Carly’s cult fans have waited her entire career for her to visit Australia and now it’s finally happening. The other was confusion. To the normies, she’s a one-hit wonder and a novelty inclusion, there for Call Me Maybe singalong. Obviously, the latter are wrong.
For those just catching up now, Jeppo shed the one-hit wonder tag long ago. It is true, she hasn’t had a hit since Call Me Maybe (we’ll turn a blind eye to Good Time) but she’s transformed into a cult hero based purely off the strength of her past two albums E.MO.TION and Dedication, plus Cut To The Feeling and her treasure chest of unreleased songs – if you’re a real day one.
Most people reading this site would know the worth of E.MO.TION. Jepsen ditched the Max Martin pop formula to present a retro pop record that recruited everyone from Dev Hynes to Rostam. It was a euphoric listen that also featured wobbly, experimental production while never straying far from the guilty pleasure mould. She tried for a hit with I Really Like You – featuring Justin Bieber and Tom Hanks in the video – but eventually couldn’t give a flying fuck.
Album number four and she’s a hero to pop purists and gays everywhere. Around the world people have howled to Runaway With Me, handed swords to her during Cut To The Feeling and recently partied for one with thousands. Dedicated houses some of the best music of her career. It’s embedded in ’70s disco but reaches far and wide to grab the best pop hooks for Real Love‘s elating drop to Want You In My Room‘s cheeky ’80s smut.
We’ve spent the Northern Hemisphere’s summer chasing Jepsen and have managed to catch her twice – once at Spain’s Primavera Festival and the other at her New York City headline show. At SoundTunes, you’re getting her in festival mode and it’s an all-out party. Jepsen arrived on stage smiley and ready to boogie, launching at her slowest point No Drug Like Me before taking it into the stratosphere.
Dedicated was given an airing with Now That I Found You, Too Much and Want You In My Room garnering a welcome reception but it’s Party For One that’s really solidifying its place as a classic. It occupies a worthy spot right towards the end of the set, once the euphoria has really set in, and it goes off. There’s really no other way to say it.
Call Me Maybe was placed very early in the set, allowing those mentioned above to get their fix and leave, before she dropped obscure B-side Store which has become a live favourite of hers. Run Away With Me was glorious but it’s her most unlikely drop Cut To The Feeling which stole the show. Amidst a sea of confetti she jumped around the stage and had everyone flailing their hands in the air. As she mentioned as the start of the show, there really is no drug like Carly and you’ve never had this much serotonin injected at once.
If she does decide to do headline shows in Australia (surely it’s inevitable) then you’re in for a much longer set for the die-hards. In New York, she stood below a giant disco ball and ushered everyone from a sax player to Mark Kanemura. It was a party from start-to-finish with Jepsen peppering the extra time with endearing stories. Before Julien she told the crowd that she doesn’t really care about this boy Julien, she just wrote the song because his name is “so musical”.
Dedicated got the biggest airing at her headline show. 11 of the 15 songs ended up in the setlist which would create plenty of drink breaks for most artists but not for Jepsen. Too Much was a slinky mantra, Happy Not Knowing comes armed with one of the most danceable beat and Real Love flies higher than any other new song.
Of course, she doesn’t leave E.MO.TION unturned. The title track sounds like a tried-and-tested classic and Gimme Love‘s wobbling bass left everyone lustful. I Really Like You may have been one of the album’s weakest but with hindsight it comes off sounding like more of a global smash than Call Me Maybe. That said, every song does. Jepsen delivers song-after-song and even if you’re not familiar with it all there are no flat moments. Her voice struck with a surprising strength the whole time and she’s a personable frontwoman capable of holding all your attention.
Australia – you’ve finally been given your chance to see pop royalty. Don’t fuck it up.