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Celina Murphy, 25 Oct 2012
The first thing you should know about Carly Rae Jepsen is that she’s not 16. She’s actually 26. I know, I know. You could have sworn that the British Columbia-born cutie-pie who found fame as the sort-of protégé of teenage lothario and fellow Canadian Justin Bieber was still in school, or, at least, had dropped out of college to become a primetime pop princess. Nope. In spite of what her babydoll style or pubescent voice might suggest, she could waltz right into Hertz, and they’d be obliged to loan her a Fiat Punto.
A graduate of Canadian Idol (she finished third on the show – in 2007!), Jepsen caught the ear of the unstoppable Bieber earlier this year, who immediately signed her up to his own record label, School Boy Records. A few weeks later, she was sitting on one of the biggest hits of 2012, a song that’s brilliant for two reasons: its unforgettable, string-flagged melody and its deliciously flirty subject matter. ‘Call Me Maybe’ was built around a universal singleton truth, but one that rarely makes it to the charts: instead of telling her unnamed hunk, “I fancy you,” Jepsen balks, attempts to play it cool and says something akin to, “Be mine or like, whatever.”
Unfortunately, you’ll find nothing as clever or addictive elsewhere on Kiss, the pint-size brunette’s first album for a major label, but rather a lot of bright and bouncy disco-infused girl-next-door pop that seems destined to soundtrack the pillow fight scene in an upcoming Bella Thorne movie (ask the nearest available 12-year-old).
The impossibly chirpy ‘Tiny Little Bows’ samples Sam Cooke’s ‘Cupid’, rendering the legendary soul man almost as shrill as Jepsen herself; ‘Curiosity’ fuses hyperactive synth throbs with sugar-coated vocals, and – surprise, surprise – the cliché-ridden ‘This Kiss’ sticks firmly to the same blueprint.
Bieber turns up on inevitable ballad ‘Beautiful’, which mirrors the confusing sentiment of One Direction’s ‘What Makes You Beautiful’ almost exactly (“You’re not trying to be perfect,” Carly swoons, leading us around the pop equivalent of the staircase from Escher’s Relativity, “Nobody’s perfect, but you are, to me”), while the inexplicably popular Owl City joins her on the party-starting ‘Good Time’.