Carly Rae Jepsen’s E-MO-TION
Real talk: I am deeply afraid of harboring feelings of the *~*~*romantic*~*~* kind. Realer talk: lacking the tools (or until now, the perfect song) to help express these feelings, I can be inattentive and at times dismissive towards them. This explains why my online dating profiles reveal zero traces of a real personality, just a bunch of <<winking ghost emojis>> Part of growing up is understanding your emotions, and this Tuesday N00bsday is dedicated to how I learned to become a better adult by exploring those emotions while listening to Carly Rae Jepsen’s latest album appropriately titled, you guessed it, Emotion.
Released in late 2015, Emotion was criminally overlooked in the year of TSwift Domination and the Bieber Apology Tour. While “Shake It Off” and “Sorry” are meant for stadium arena tours, the tracks on Emotion require an underground club filled with vape smoke. One of 2015’s purest pop albums begins with a slow, seductive horn from “Run Away With Me” that could have been sampled from a sex scene in the 1980s. Right away, Carly takes us on a journey of windbreakers and headbands nostalgia.
I was the sort of 90s kid who listened to Mariah and Whitney cassettes and whose parents played Phil Collins around the house. From 2006 when I first received an iPod for Christmas to 2008 when I left for college, Toni Braxton’s “Unbreak My Heart” was still on my Top 25 Most Played playlists. Emotion is the quintessential album for millennials who want to relive the hopeful yearning and innocent crushes of their school days, but have tempered those butterflies-in-stomach feelings after experiencing some heartbreaks and disappointments. It feels like Emotion was made specifically for me, a girl raised on 90s pop and led to believe that True Love not only exists, but also materialises into Colin Firth. But now here’s me, at 26, no longer listening to Mariah and much more invested in the feelings of fictional characters than my own (is Arya Stark going to be okay?! I’m not a book reader, y’all!).
In “Run Away With Me,” Carly implores us to cast off our insecurities and let ourselves feel our feelings — but do it in the dark. Oh baby, take me to the feeling / I’ll be your sinner, in secret / When the lights go out. Although the first part of the hook paints Carly as a coy and elusive chanteuse, the other end of it is Oh baby, every single minute / I’ll be your hero and win it / When the lights go out. The rest of the album is like this: shy and secretive for a moment, then confident and declarative in another.
Nothing reads as more assertive than the single, “I Really Like You.” Carly doesn’t sing the chorus so much as speed reads through a stream of consciousness diary entry of a lovestruck teenager: Oh did I say too much? / I’m so in my head / When we’re outta touch / I really really really really really really like you / And I want you, do you want me, do you want me too?
The best thing about Emotion is that it is delightfully FUN to listen to. The hooks are catchy, the beats are bubbly, and Carly’s voice is always on the edge of cracking, yet remains on this side of sincerity and worldliness. Emotion is also relatable af and exactly what I needed to hear at this point in my life. Consider the pulsating beat of “Warm Blood” coupled with the lines: I saw myself tonight / Saw my reflection in the mirror / My hands and heart were tied / But I was scared of almost nothing at all.
But I was scared
of nothing at all.
That line stopped me in my tracks upon the first listen. Yes, Leann of the <<ghost emojis>>, what are you afraid of? What is holding you back from genuinely engaging in the business of Love and Romance? Leave it up to Canadians to be much braver than me in both wilderness hiking and matters of the heart. Damn it, Carly was right. What is so scary about wanting to share feelings of intimacy with another person?
- losing oneself
- falling too hard
- unrequited feelings
- breaking up
- starting over again
- repeating cycle
- tinder is boring
Carly mentions having secrets throughout Emotion. Secrets are hers to keep and share at her will; secrets act as extensions of her agency. Although each track’s bright, exuberant beat captures youthful sincerity, the lyrics reflect an entirely adult and mature worldview. “When I Needed You” plays with storybook imagery that undermines the narrative of princess fairytales and every romantic comedy ever that insist women need to be rescued by way of love.
Once upon a time I / Thought you were the hero / I waited for you all night / I closed my eyes and slept for years / You kissed me like a sunrise / I feel it through my forehead / I felt it like a goodbye / I’m not myself
Cut to the album’s eponymous song: Not a flower on the wall / I am growing ten feet, ten feet tall / In your head and I won’t stop / Until you forget me, get me not / In your fantasy, dream about me / And all that we could do with this emotion
I’ve been listening to pop music for MAYBE 20 years now, and never have I EVER felt that a song asked me outright, “So what are you going to do with all of this emotion?”
For this Tuesday N00bsday, I didn’t exactly set out to understand and express my full capacity of human emotions, just a tiny corner of it. This very act of writing and thinking about my own emotions was the larger personal challenge. The truth is, I’m afraid of getting hurt. I know, I know, that’s the line used by one out of every three Matthew McConaugheys in 90s and early 00s romantic comedies. But shirtless dudes can be right sometimes! Relationships are scary, but Carly taught me that it’s possible to be vulnerable and in control at the same time. Letting yourself fall into something or someone is fun and exhilarating, as long as you can catch yourself. Thanks to a Canadian ray of sunshine, my <<knife emoji>> has been replaced with a real human heart that is finally asking the right questions and open to exploring a fuller range of human e-mo-tion.