Finally. After months and months of hearing nothing but mega-hit “Call Me Maybe” over and over (with the exception of a duet with Owl City), Carly Rae Jepsen’s album Kiss is now available. Now we can hear more of this popstar’s range—you know, find out what she’s really capable of as an artist.
You know about Oreo cookies, right? That first one tastes so good, it begs you to have more of them. If that much sweet is good, then more must be better. But after about the tenth Oreo, your teeth start to hurt from all the sugar.
Unfortunately, that’s kind of the dynamic we have with Kiss. Apparently, the overarching philosophy here was that if one bouncy-beat, sugar-sweet song was good, then twelve of them (or fifteen, with the deluxe edition) will be all the better. As a result, this record has the effect of eating a dozen Oreo cookies. They all taste the same, and after awhile it makes your teeth hurt. Musically speaking, that is.
As it turns out, it didn’t take too much effort to build the track list for Kiss. Of course, “Call Me Maybe” had to be there, along with “Good Time” (the aforementioned duet with Owl City, which also happens to appear on his recent record). Then we do a new single “This Kiss”; add “Curiosity,” which was the title track of Jepsen’s recent EP only available in Canada; throw in a duet with Justin Bieber (“Beautiful”), and the rest is basically coasting. This means that a significant portion of this record, to be honest, is a hodge-podge pieced together with music already recorded. The thing is—it all sounds like it fits. That’s not a good thing, in case you were wondering. If you can create a cohesive pop album from so many mix-and-match songs, it means your artist isn’t displaying a lot of range or depth.
And that’s the inherent problem here; there’s no real depth. Kiss is very likely to sell lots of records to a tween/teen target audience, but at the end of the day, it’s all sugar and no nutrition. A bag of Oreos consumed in one sitting. And that’s really sad, because I suspect that as a musical artist, Carly Rae Jepsen is actually capable of more. We’re just not getting to see it.
Does this mean the beginning of the end for Jepsen? I suspect not. She’s got enough chart success to have broken through one-hit wonder status, and “Call Me Maybe” still has plenty of momentum to carry her for awhile. And admittedly, that little-girl voice of hers is loaded with appeal. But I will say that this kind of output won’t carry Carly Rae Jepsen forever; eventually she’s going to have to break out of Oreo cookie mode and bring some more substance to her art. There are just enough glimpses of that potential in Kiss that give me hope that she will be given the opportunity to dig deeper in future recordings.
If she doesn’t, I’m afraid that there won’t be anything left to keep her out of the sea of mediocrity when the veneer of “Call Me Maybe” inevitably wears off. And I think she deserves more.