It has been an eventful odyssey for Mission, BC’s Carly Rae Jepsen since her Top 40, gold-certified breakout hit single “Tug of War” in 2008. Her third studio LP Emotion in 2015 was the result of paring down 250 new songs to less than 20. The “unnecessary bits” were kept alive as ink strokes on an easel. With its release, Carly became a darling of the critics who placed it on a plethora of year-end best album lists, and now she finds herself a Polaris short-listed nominee. In contrast, with the exception of Japan where the album went gold, Emotion was not a blockbuster commercial success. Her management team was blamed for a series of marketing missteps in the album’s rollout. Without going into too many details, for one, unwisely having fans outside of Japan wait two months later (three for Europeans) for the album to come out while making audio files available globally on YouTube, is a highly effective recipe for piracy.
Additionally, even in today’s world, pop album sales are propelled largely by radio hits, and radio proved itself very unemotional, as the album singles received only short-term, limited airplay. Canadian radio seems to have a bone to pick with established Canadian female soloists. Avril Lavigne’s “Here’s to Never Growing Up” was a platinum single but received lukewarm airplay. Jepsen’s “I Really Like You” went gold but was brushed aside in a similar fashion.
Bungling the promotion and challenges with winning over the spin doctors coupled with incessant praises of critical cheerleaders may have been a factor in the decision to dust off the yellowed pages on the easel and circle some titles to be presented in a companion disc to give things a second life. Eight songs were placed on Emotion Side B. Are these toss-outs any good? How about an instant flinging into pop music ecstasy. You better believe it. As with the formal album, it is as hard to find any weak moments on the disc as it is to agree on the best entry. There are instances of what sound like skips or static distortions in the recordings (esp. on our favourite track “The One”) but that may be an intentional ripped jeans philosophy of production. A limited number of CDs have been made, available only through Carly’s website. With a possible Canada Post strike, they may be hard to acquire.
Opener “First Time” was originally released only in Japan and made their Billboard Hot 100. “Higher”, was written for Carly by Tegan & Sara’s current producer Greg Kurstin. “Fever” is an instant charmer and was also previously available in Japan. “Body Language” had the most writers at six. Pulsing along ever so nicely is “Cry”. “Store” was originally a jingle for an antismoking campaign. In “Roses”, Carly returns to her long-time collaborator, Canadian producer Ryan Stewart.
There is one thing that can be agreed upon here. Carly Rae Jepsen’s album throwaways make up the best pop album of 2016, and that can mean only one thing (which remains a secret for many): she’s the queen of pop.