[7] Carly Rae Jepsen, ‘Call Me Maybe’

Carly Rae Jepsen

It’s easy to insinuate a pop song into the global consciousness: take a low synth thrum/quiet storm verse that suggests a Kelly Clarkson explosion without the mess, surge off into clipped disco strings instead, nail a killer melody and – here’s the thing – write a lyric people will talk about (and remember). “Why is this crazy? People do it all the time.” It’s the cute conceit that makes everyone want to cover it – and that snowballs into a phenomenon. See? Easy. Carly Rae Jepsen is almost incidental, but she can do naive excitement, sounds like she’s feeling it and is the untarnished face of a novelty.

Sometimes everything just meets. I started Jukebox Junior as a fun way to get me writing – it worked, it grew, it changed my life – and back then I had a willing audience. Well, she was trapped in a bouncy chair and flapped her arms if she liked a bassline or simple, direct tune. But you can’t stop a person growing up. I never meant to brainwash her anyway, but of course she’s developed her own tastes. She’s a seven-year-old girl. She likes One Direction, she likes David Guetta’s fast-track hooks even more. I’m not saying she doesn’t enjoy some of the songs she’s introduced to here, just that the thrill of recognition always triumphs. She’s got a whole routine for ‘Call Me Maybe’ and that’s something I’ve never seen before. So there you are, maybe this place can become an exchange of knowledge as she engages more completely with pop and I continue to lose bits of myself to Steely Dan.

[14] Usher, ‘Climax’


Why didn’t you remind me I was doing this? One song a weekday before revealing the No.1 on the 21st. Another broken manifesto pledge.

Usher’s like one of those billionaires now who does whatever the blazes he wants when he wants. So he can do a big guest vocal on a Guettathon and then dial it right down for this shard of Buck Rogers R&B. He’s squawking the hell out of his falsetto – which Junior represents via a scale of rising hand gestures, like a Hello Kitty t-shirt-wearing Mariah Carey – and lets the beats and bass drag and drop like a picture editor.

It’s tortured spook-soul that months on sounds better and better. Junior 3 lip-synchs with a pained expression and a sprinkling of vogues, to properly channel Usher’s emotional experience. Junior herself says he sings like a girl.