samedi 10 novembre 2012

NRGetic Pop from Carly Rae Jepsen on her album KISS

It's been a while since I've bought Kiss, the second album from the canadian artist Carly Rae Jepsen, a 27 year old woman, even if she looks like a teenager and has hit the top of the charts worldwide with her two latest singles, Call me maybe, the hit of the summer here in France, and Good time, with Owl City, both made of pure candy pop.
In fact, she's released her first album, Tug of war, some years ago, and it was all country inspired pop/folk, and she didn't make it big with that kind of songs. Maybe Katy Perry's success in pop has given her the idea to brighten up her image and sound to get the votes from teenagers on iTunes, but this whole album still has signs of her previous sound, and that is where it bores me a little, so that is why it's taken me some time to finally post about her Kiss. I wasn't sure if I liked it or not ; truth is I like the pop side of it, and as it is really good, I have wanted to name the goods & the bads ; you'll see the balance is on the right side...

The album starts with Tiny little bows, co-written and produced by Dallas Austin. I remember the name of this US producer notably for his work with TLC or several R&B girlsbands but this song is all teenpop mixed with dance beats from today's sound that invades the radios, and it's catchy, ecxept for the spooky strangely sung interlude in the middle of the song. People who liked Call me maybe won't be surprised by this album's start.

This kiss follows and this new single, co-produced by one half of LMFAO, follows the path with an energetic beat made of synthés with an upbeat chorus that makes you want to sing along. After her two previous hitsongs, This kiss sounds just like what she needed to make her stay at the top of charts last a little more time, even though until now this single hasn't really matched the success of its predecessors. On this one, Carly Rae Jepsen does really sound inspired by Katy Perry so could this be what has put this song down from the radios' airplay's lists ? Some new Seamus Haji and Digital Dog remixes have just been commissioned to help it crossover to the dance addicts so its chart carreer ain't over yet !

Her superhit Call me maybe is next and even though everybody must have heard it a thousand times or two since its release, still it doesn't bore despite its really repetitive chorus. This song is a hit, no matter what. Now a wordwide smash is a song everybody covers in a youtube video and Call me maybe must have ranked over the previous Born this way/Umbrella quotas ! Even Katy Perry has posted a video of her fooling around with her friends lip-syncing to it ! Her record company has had the unashamed position to have it remixed by the ultra-camp english remix team from Almighty Records, assuming it to be some glorious slice of cheesy pop.

Track #4, Curiosity, was featured along Call me maybe on her Curiosity EP, released before the album to make her fans wait for it while her single exploded in everywhere's charts, and the original version has been slightly remixed by Dallas Austin & co to match the dance/pop sound of her hits. The song lacks a strong chorus line though and it hasn't been the follow-up to Call me maybe Carly Rae Jepsen must have intended when she wrote it with original producer Ryan Stewart and started promoted it as a single.

Good time, the single that Owl City invited Carly to sing as a duet, is featured here next, making the start of the album a nearly singles-only succession. I've said it all already on my Owl City post so I won't repeat that I like it a lot with its feel good and happy joyful feeling... I'll just add it is nice to see it feature on both the artists' albums, even though I did buy both !

More than a memory starts with all electronic beats and synthpop effects to offer us another upbeat teenpop glorious moment. The chorus is particularly lightful and catchy so it could easily be picked up as a further single and extend the singles accumulation on the CD's first part.
Turn me up is the same, even though it has more laidback trancey arrangements, but the intro, first verse and pre-chorus all build it up to the final real chorus' power, except it is not strong enough for the anticipation the song put us under, if you know what I mean. I don't say it is a bad song, just that this one would not fit in the radio appeal's single potential, but it is a good album track, not a filler ! Hurt so good is made of the same teenpop appeal with electronic dance arrangements, but with a chorus not catchy enough to be something else than a strong album moment.
That is everything better and more than what follows and looks like a surefire single, but not because of the song's quality and strong appeal, but all because of the featuring... This Toby Gad song sees second verse's vocals be taken by teens' sensation Justin Bieber so the duet of these male and female heartthrobs is a match made in heaven on paper, except this song, called Beautiful, sounds as if it had been recorded for Carly's previous album : it is all accoustic, downtempo, really country sounding, pop/folk with guitar, everything I dislike ! Because of it, I fear Carly's heart still belongs to the lil' country girl that recorded Tug of war.
Tonight I'm gettin' over you, co-written and produced by Max Martin, sounds like some David Guetta production, with a light intro and first verse that errupts into a strong dirty chorus with a phatt devastating beat, and it's a pleasurable return to form after that boring duet. Maybe the beat is a little too raw, it takes the girl away from her usual polished dance/pop sound, but it is interesting enough to see her in this territory.
Call me maybe's team wrote and produced its part II with Guitar string / wedding ring and its repetitive chorus. The song sounds like a mix between Carly's two worlds : teenpop/dance and guitar-led pop/rock, but this time, the catchiness of the song is enough to make me like it, and I even dream it could get released as a further single. The chorus line, seeing the girl want her lover to use a piece of guitar string as a wedding ring on her finger, is inventive enough in its imagery and addictive as hell to make it find a place in the radios' playlists for sure !
Toby Gad is back on board for another ballad, Your heart is a muscle, but this one is piano-led and that changes everything in my ears. The melody is delicate and strong, especially on the chorus line, where Carly Rae Jepsen's vocals show its raw range, really sounding like a country songstress to me, but I still like it, although it is the slowest song of the album. And that is the final track to the standard blue edition of Kiss.
But if you know me well, you'd guess I had bought the Deluxe edition, covered in pink like the candy pop it is made of, and we've got four more songs for nearly the same price, and the first one is Drive, another one by Dallas Austin. Upbeat and catchy, it is a nice bonus, one more to mix her dance/pop actual sound with previous pop/rock with guitars, but another one I like. It is time for me to give one more precious information about the lady : she co-wrote all 16 songs on my CD but both collaborations (with Owl City and Justin Bieber), and for some kind of a new artist, that proves something and makes a difference...
Wrong feels so right is another collaboration track with LMFAO's Redfoo and a nice electro pop/dance anthem that would have nicely fitted in the standard edition album if you want my opinion. After first chorus it has club beats that give it a more punchy appeal but in the same league, Tonight I'm gettin' over you was better. It is as if Carly had written a pop/folk song and that she recorded it in an electro/club form so sometimes it sounds out of place, sometimes it sounds right...
Sweetie, despite the name, is no cute ballad, but a retro uptempo produced by Klas Ahlund. Nice and fresh, with a pulsating rhythm, it's a good album track, and I think the bonuses could have made the standard without condition !
I know you have a girlfriend is another song co-written with Matthew Koma, who co-wrote and produced songs  #2, 6 + 8. It includes electronical arrangements, but more in the synthpop retro sounds this time, along a 60's vibe and singalong melody, like some cover of an old upbeat song that would have been produced with nowadays' studio techniques, except it is a new song penned by both of them... and a way to finish the album with a timeless affair.

Except nowadays, even Deluxe editions doesn't have it all, and iTunes includes another bonus song called Almost said it. For having heard it from the site, it is not one I miss as it is a Beautiful clone, all country sounding with acoustic guitar and at a slow pace, like an excerpt from her first album. At 2'28, it sounds like an Encore the girl could sing at the end of a concert with just a guitarist behind her, but that ain't my cup of tea !
Japan benefits from a better bonus with Melt with you, which is another strong upbeat electronic pop/dance moment that extends the journey into Carly Rae Jepsen's bright and shiny little world. I wish it was included on the international Deluxe edition I have bought !

So all in all, there hasn't been so many lame moments or pop/folk boring tracks, and my first impression was due to the fact my attention was cristallised on her Justin Bieber duet for sure ! I still think the girl's voice and heart belong to the country side of pop but her actual teenpop/dance just suits my tastes and I'll follow her as long as she sticks to it. Just a quick listening back to her Curiosity EP that included four other recordings after Call me maybe and the title track proved at that moment she didn't know which direction she should take : Picture, Talk to me, Just a step away and the Joni Mitchell's cover Both sides now sounded all the more pop/rock than electro pop to me, even though the production did test some synthés touches in bits and pieces.

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