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Carly Rae Jepsen is still the poster child for pop fanatics everywhere! After competing on Canadian Idol in 2007 and placing a respectable 3rd place in the finals, the fresh-faced phenom discovered by entertainment mogul Scooter Braun (who launched the careers of other stars like Justin Bieber, Cody Simpson, The Wanted and more) tasted her first glimpse of major success when she popped back in the music scene in 2012 with the mega successful single “Call Me Maybe”. From there, Jepsen’s music career took off, and she received an abundance of critical praise for her third studio album titled Emotion in 2015. The 80’s-synergy pop heavy project emerged as Jepsen’s calling to pop lovers around the globe. She promptly crushed any skeptic’s thoughts of her being a one hit wonder statistic and with that, Carly Rae Jepsen’s brand was born!
Now at the tender age of 33, the fresh-faced blonde is back with her fourth official studio album titled Dedicated. Much to the delight of her massive herd of diehard fans, the LP keeps pace with what has gotten her here: excellent songwriting, and pop-friendly hooks. It doesn’t have the funky flare of Emotions but the musical prowess and progression is evident right out of the gate. Dedicated is 2004’s blockbuster teen movie ‘Mean Girls’ all grown up (artistically speaking that is), as she makes major strides in some areas, but remains stagnant in others.
Take for example the honest and genuine vibratos of “Too Much”, which may arguably be the best track on the album, as she sings: “When I feel it, then I feel it too much // When I’m thinking, then I’m thinking too much // When I’m drinking, then I’m drinking too much // I’ll do anything to get to the rush // Now I’m dancing, and I’m dancing too much // So be careful if you’re wanting this touch // ‘Cause if I love you, then I love you too much.”
The real and relatable “Happy Not Knowing” is another standout, a grooving pop ballad as she sings about a potential broken heart, while still keeping the sweet teeny popping vibe alive with commanding ease. The Canadian starlet’s showmanship continues to sparkle on the lighthearted “Julien”, which is another outstanding effort. With a Calvin Harris type of production to it, Jepsen’s airy vocals match in perfect tune with the song’s up-tempo vibratos. Toward the end her adlibs (which are extremely underrated by the way) are belted out with fine tune precision bringing everything together with finesse. The simple but genuine track “Real Love” is another nice addition, keeping her razor sharp song-writing skills on full display.
As the album moves along, Jepsen also begins to show her more grown up and mature side on more riske tracks like the fun, “Want You In My Room”, which will appeal to sorority party girls everywhere as she playfully sings: “On the bed, on the floor // (I want you in my room) // I don’t care anymore // I wanna do bad things to you // Slide on through my window // (I want you in my room) // Baby don’t you want me too?”
However, toward mid listen unfortunately is when things begin to fall back into retro Carly Rae Jepsen. It is almost as if she tried and failed miserably to keep the same appeal that has worked up until now with certain tracks from this album. For instance, “I’ll be your girl” sounds like a bad 1980’s remake that belongs somewhere on the ‘Grease’ film soundtrack. Couple that with the over repetitive hook, and it sinks right into a mediocre whirlpool. “Everything He Needs “ is a bore, and also leaves too much to be desired. Which could also be said for the uninteresting and over redundant melodies of “Drug Like Me”. When the listener has reached this point, it leaves you wondering if she just checked out on the ladder part of the album compared to its thrilling start.
In conclusion, CRJ doesn’t have the charisma of Madonna, or the vocal chops of Adele. But she does have a great knack for making really good music when she wants to. Jepsen’s ability to create relaxed but very impactful emotions as an entertainer is uncanny and simply cannot be taught. Without comparison, Lady Gaga is another artist that showcases this same skill masterfully. With that said, Dedicated although not perfect, is forward moving and at times brilliant, making it by far Jepsen’s best and most impressive work yet. In a sea of pop queens, her status has long been sealed. And with a fan base this loyal, she no longer needs anyone else’s approval but her own. So will this be Carly Rae Jepsen’s peak? Or is this pop princess just getting started? We shall see!