For this week’s one year anniversary of E-MO-TION, Carly Rae Jepsen’s undeniably perfect and incredible third record, the singer has today given us a packed eight song EP of sorts simply called E-MO-TION Side B. These are songs that were recorded during the E-MO-TION sessions but didn’t make the cut for the album proper. Jepsen teased the release of these songs, one by one, on Instagram, allowing us a handful of seconds over top videos of The Addams Family and a young, dancing Drew Barrymore, to name a couple. For those of us thirsty for more off E-MO-TION, this is the best quencher. They are the quirky, experimental options we didn’t know we longed for. These B-sides build upon the shimmery 80s pop base Jepsen began on E-MO-TION but then blow it wide open. Opening track “First Time,” which is an immediate standout, has a click of a cassette, playing and stopping, before launching into the synth heavy break-up song. In retrospect, that simple action is like a start/stop of E-MO-TION; a public clicking on and off of a great song or record without any regard. While this may not be intentional, the lyrics “cause when the heart breaks/it always feels like the first time” feel like a comment to Jepsen die-hards who supported the shit out of E-MO-TION after it was released and saw how it subsequently failed to gain the kind of reach we all thought it would.
Jepsen’s vocal range on these songs shift from soft whispers to defined and powerful; on the b-sides she takes the best parts of the 80s from Madonna to Debbie Harry to even Cyndi Lauper and makes this beautiful set of songs for us to consume now. Other standouts on the 80s heavy EP are “Fever,” an undercover power anthem about falling in love and going through heartache; “The One” has the most overtly 80s intro with deep keys that sound like they are emitting lasers with every touch, and “Body Language,” which would perfectly soundtrack an aerobicizing video. The link throughout all of these songs is that they almost all deal with heartache and unrequited love, pleading over, at times, twitchy keys and smooth drums. Pop music is built on the foundation of broken hearts and the lessons we learn (or don’t) from that. Pop music can feel like it is reaching far back to try too hard to replicate emotional and sensory responses of our youth and that comes across as tacky or corny and insincere. But the b-sides and E-MO-TION aren’t like that. What differentiates the pop music of Jepsen from her contemporaries is that these are relatable sentiments with an infusion of maturity. Jepsen’s lyrics compounded with her sonic choice feel as though she’s looking back through the lens of a person with these lived experiences and not as though she is living them, still.
The One | E•MO•TION Side B | 3 DAYS pic.twitter.com/z885vZGQMY
— Carly Rae Jepsen (@carlyraejepsen)
August 23, 2016
Almost an hour before the release of the b-sides, Jepsen, like any good pop star and public figure, took to Instagram to thank and acknowledge her fans and shed a little light on why she decided to let us in on songs that weren’t ever supposed to be. “The memes, the covers, the parties, and the shows. You keep me inspired.” It’s saccharinely sentimental but perhaps something Jepsen fans have hoped to hear. I am still unapologetically obsessed with E-MO-TION. This record feels good when you listen to it in a dark, sweaty club next to your crush or when walking along a busy fluorescently lit street on a hot summer night as the sky turns from cotton candy pink to inky dark blue. To me it is objectively this perfect because it is such accessible pop yet it takes risks; this is a kind of 80s pop that demands you dance off your sorrows over bubbly synths and dramatic drums. “Gimme Love” is a top track to me off E-MO-TION, which is saying something, because I’m picky as fuck and often shift back to safe favourites. “Gimme Love” sounds like what a pulsing sensation feels like when someone you like touches your skin; it’s an immediate, unexpected fizz.
These b-sides are a decidedly great companion to the sensations and moods Jepsen has given us on E-MO-TION. Jepsen is now so far from the “Call Me, Maybe” girl that at times I forget she ever sang those words. The 30 year-old pop singer’s origin story begins with an appearance on Canadian Idol but an accidental discovery by mega superstar Justin Bieber that would catapult her into full view. But there is perhaps another narrative that would suit Jepsen much better: the one where she is an effortless pop star who actually makes good, complex pop music. Perhaps E-MO-TION is really Jepsen’s debut, not her third record. Maybe this is where her new definition will actually begin. If the success we wanted of E-MO-TION wasn’t possible a year ago, then it’s a nice feeling now to see her acknowledging how all of us celebrated and championed it and how we still do. Sarah MacDonald is a staff writer at Noisey Canada. Follow her on Twitter.