Becoming a new pop star is all about finding a niche to fill…
Contrary to what most talent-based shows (I’m looking at you X Factor) tell us when they pass people along round after round for looking/sounding like Rihanna, what really should be happening is the opposite. Being the same as someone who is already much more established than you equals death.
In today’s estrogen filled pool we have Ke$ha “the party girl”, Lady Gaga “the avant-garde psycho”, Rihanna “the bad girl”, Pink “the hard rocker”, and Katy Perry “the anthem-making skank.” Carly Rae Jepsen eyed this from her perch and noticed what was missing, a cute early 2000-era pop tart. And what did she do? She filled that role to a tee.
Kiss starts off with “Tiny Little Bows”, a sugary 3 minutes of referencing Cupid, various world cities, and holding hands. Although Katy Perry may cloud her tours with gingerbread men and polka dots, I don’t particularly get the cutesie vibe from her music when she is screaming at me to probe her and make her a victim (all while transforming into an alien). No, the cute route definitely fits Carly much better. From the all-consuming song that was “Call Me Maybe” to her coy ballad with Justin Bieber “Beautiful” (hey are those One Direction lyrics?) everything is touched with a certain sweetness.
Standouts on the album are: “This Kiss” – an 80s driven song about infidelity, “More Than a Memory” – a slower jam where Carly gets to show that she does have vocal chops, and “Hurt So Good” – an extraordinarily catchy number about enjoying something you shouldn’t be doing (a common theme on the album).
Although the album is filled with greatness, there are some negatives. The album cut of “Curiosity” is much less enjoyable than the original Canadian release and almost all the songs have the same pounding beat behind them, but the main issue is the lyrical content.
While not God-awful, the songs all depict coy romances even in not so coy contexts. Carly is 26, singing about love the way a certain deranged skinny country girl does (yes that’s Taylor Swift if you haven’t gotten it by now). Luckily the beats and her delivery keep any of the songs from being taken too seriously, unlike Swift who makes it sound like she’s a hideous troll who has just missed her one chance with the male species EVER.
In the latter portion of the album Carly goes all LMFAO on us and turns up the club jams with “Tonight I’m Getting Over You” and bonus track “Wrong Feels So Right” (not to be confused with “Hurt So Good”). These aren’t her strongest moments, but they play to the tween crowd and Carly sounds great on the songs anyway.
Overall, the album is a strong first impression for a girl who has brought back the early 2000s to 2012 (how retro of her!). Hopefully in the future Carly will keep making fun, cute, and danceable tracks just with a stronger overall perspective lyrically. As long as she doesn’t pull a Katy Perry and decide she’s going “real fucking dark on the next album”, I’ll think we are all safe.