Carly Rae Jepsen is the queen of pop. Her ability to make pop jingles is nearly unmatched. Two huge hits in 'Call Me Maybe' and 'I Really Like You' later, she's really carved out her career. Her second album titled E•MO•TION is celebrating its one-year anniversary, and Jepsen has released a collection of B-Sides from the record in response.
E•MO•TION Side B consists of eight never-before heard tracks from the recording sessions of the album. These eight tracks are just as energetic as the album itself, serving well as its on standalone EP. Though these songs are full tracks, cleanly produced and ready for release, it's clear why these tracks didn't quite make the cut.
There are some great bangers on this short EP, and it's a shame some of them won't get the same recognition the songs on the album got. The first song 'First Time' is a very feel-good start to the record, having a very classic (albeit, safe) pop sound to it. All of the little instrumental ad libs add a lot of character to the track. 'Higher' is much the same, with a slightly moodier atmosphere to it. While 'First Time' is optimistic and looking to keep a relationship going, 'Higher' is more hopeful in that search of love. It resolves itself into a more cheerful conclusion.
The last track on the album is one of Carly's best, and I'm very confused on how exactly it didn't make the cut on the record. 'Roses' is a somber track in meaning, a very nice contrast to her normal songs. It's about someone who she loved who has left the relationship for reasons that she can't comprehend, and how much she wishes she comes back. The instrumental isn't overproduced, being more of an underlying force behind Jepsen's voice, which is the main focus of the track.
Another meaning to the track is that the person she loved has died. The chorus contains the lines, "And I can feel you reaching through the cracks / A simple change of seasons and you're back / All the roses in the garden fade to black." I can't help but feel that refers to someone who she lost rather than someone that's left her. The memories of that person haunt her, especially around the time of year when the person was lost ("a simple change of seasons and you're back"), and then everything around her - even the most lively and colorful of things - seems empty, painted in black and white. Whatever the meaning, it's a pretty hard track to forget and definitely a standout in her discography.
The question does arise, though; why are these track B-sides? The reality is that most of these songs don't really have a place on the album. E•MO•TION had a very distinct personality to it in which all the songs, good or bad, seemed to fit in with. These are more like outliers; in songs like 'Higher' you can almost see where it fit in to the theme of the record, but didn't quite reach there. The songs are either pre-cursors to the record, or songs she made that just didn't quite fit in.
Another issue is that some of these songs are just average. Not that I personally believe that every track on the album was full of fun and unique (looking at you, 'Boy Problems'). Take 'Store', for example. It's just not a great track - it's premise is way too silly for its own good (in terms of fighting for inclusion on the record; nothing wrong with a silly track) and its meaning doesn't quite substantiate to anything. It almost sounds unfinished the way the lyrics are all over the place, like its meant to say one thing but then goes into another. 'The One' is also quite repetitive and says all it needs to about its meaning by the time the first chorus concludes. This isn't to say that all of the tracks are just not fit to be great songs; 'Cry' is a very sweet song that has a lot of value in its performance. It's a great track, if not a bit underwhelming; the fact is, it just didn't belong on the record.
Jepsen is definitely up there with some of Canada's greatest pop artists. Her music has a lot of personality to it that isn't quite matched by anything else. Hearing 'Call Me Maybe' may now become a tiring experience, but the reason it was so popular to begin with was because of how unique her music is. It has a touch of herself in it, and that's something pop artists seem to lack a lot of the time. The B-Sides of E•MO•TION show that the album itself had its own unique personality that songs that didn't make the cut were never going to. But that adds to the appeal of the record - she knew what she wanted, and she went for it. These new songs are a look into her mind and process, and it's a real refreshing set of music to hear.
Favorite Tracks: Roses, Higher, Cry
Least Favorite Tracks: Store, The One
Rating: 73 / 100