As you know, Carly Rae Jepsen released two new songs this week: Now That I Found You and No Drug Like Me. If you find them on Spotify you'll notice they've been bundled with Party For One in a sort of three-song EP format. A 3P, if you will. It's a Carly Rae J3Psingle.
On January 18, CRJ posted this on her Facebook page:
This week- not unlike weeks before I stressed right out about song selection and instead of going nuts, called my trusty friend/ guitarist Tavish Crowe who helped me dig to the bottom of some 100 plus songs. (More like 200). This process happened w Kiss and emotion and I want to give cheers to the truth that asking for help when you need it is never a bad thing. I find that it’s strong to know your weaknesses. Needless to say we have a favs list now and a song order and he’s the one friend I turn to when I need to hear my OWN opinion still cause he lets me battle it out without weighing in to hard but instead, continually asking- what feels right to you??! So hold tight loves. I’m re- learning lessons I need to and shortlisting this bad boy for your pretty ears. Thanks for patience. Here a pic to remind me of the wishful thing I was before over writing and over thinking things. Soon I think, we get to dance.
So what we're looking at here is a situation where Carly Rae Jepsen has a pile of up to 200 songs, and the best ones are the two she's released this week: Now That I Found You and No Drug Like Me.
How does that make you feel? How does it sit with you that from up to 200 songs sitting around on Carly Rae Jepsen's hard drives, those two are the best?
First: a note about 'best'. People who work in pop have different, confusing and sometimes conflicting ideas about what 'best' means, but it doesn't always (or often!) mean best best. The best song for the moment can just as often mean 'best to get streaming numbers back up' and 'best to fit in with the pop landscape right now', or 'best to act as a bridge and get us to a point where we can do something else'. Popstars sometimes don't ever release their best best songs. Still, the fact is that Now That I Found You and No Drug Like Me have been deemed the right songs to release right now. Best in some way, for some reason.
Another note, before we continue: as we all know, the 'pick songs from a pile of hundreds' idea hasn't always brought Carly Rae Jepsen's best best songs to the surface on the first or even second attempt. Cut To The Feeling missed the cut on both E•MO•TION and the subsequent E•MO•TION: Side B album, meaning it was passed over not just once but twice. Which makes you wonder — of that particular batch of songs, what else never made it out?
And now the meat of the situation: neither of these two new CRJ songs is great. Come on. It's okay, you can let it all out. You're among friends.
Both songs are fine! Both are better than bad! But they're not Jeppo great. They're not Run Away With Me or Your Type. They're not the songs you would play someone to show them that, hey, perhaps they need to think twice about the person who made Call Me Maybe and perhaps they also need to rethink their thoughts about what pop and popstars can do. The most troubling thing about Now That I Found You is that it's the sort of thing people who don't listen to Carly Rae Jepsen think Carly Rae Jepsen songs sound like. And this week, they're right.
There's a lot to unpack among all this: persistent questions about whether everyone or anyone in Camp Jeppo has ever really understood exactly how and why E•MO•TION did what it did and was what it was, whether goodwill and support from the more leftfield side of the media was help or hindrance, whether The Jeppsinator herself hears her music and likes the same things the rest of us do. There's also the question of whether niche success (which in 2019 is still quite a lot of success) is enough for Carly and her team or if, as the Spotpop-friendly sound of something like Party For One suggests, the ambition and aim is to move her on from her current position by crossing over into a less idiosyncratic pop space.
It'll be interesting to see and hear what lies ahead for Carly Rae Jepsen as 2019 plays out. One surprise so far is that on the evidence of what's already out there she's not taking things back in the sonic direction of 2008's pre-Call Me Maybe album Tug Of War, which felt as if it was one of the ways things could end up panning out. It'd be good to hear that one day. Maybe that's still on the planner for sometime in the future. Maybe she doesn't want to go back there at all! Who knows. For the time being, the frustrating thing is that you know, somewhere in that pile of 100–200 songs, there's probably the perfect Carly Rae Jepsen album for right now: an album full of her best songs and her best best songs. And you know that for whatever reason, half that brilliant album's songs could easily end up staying in the pile forever.