“I wanna cut through the crowds / break the ceiling,” sings Carly Rae Jepsen in the chorus of her new single ‘Cut to the Feeling’. The track is loud, powering through soaring synths and a marching beat that underscores Jepsen’s power. It’s instant. It’s exciting, and excited. It’s unapologetically participatory.
It’s quintessential Carly Rae Jepsen.
Jepsen has occupied an odd space in the pop music landscape for some time now. A perpetual underdog, she’s been mercilessly memed since her ‘Call Me Maybe’ days, and yet she never fails to surprise — and perhaps that’s what granted her a sort of longevity beyond her one-hit wonder. Her 2015 masterpiece E-MOT-ION trod a delicate temporality: completely ahead of its time but so precise in its exploration of the feelings of a fear-addled generation. While the album failed commercially, among critics and online subcultures, it developed a cult following, hailed as an underrated gem.
Her latest track ‘Cut To The Feeling’ is a validation of this faith. A leftover from E-MOT-ION, ‘Cut To The Feeling’ fits amongst the heavyweights on the record that made her such a pop sensation. “I want to dance on the roof, you and me, alone / I want to cut to the feeling,” she proclaims in valiant fashion in the titular line of the track as an ’80s-inspired melodic undercurrent runs throughout in a bold navigation of unadulterated joy.
I can’t put into words how much I love Carly Rae Jepsen, but if I could, it would sound pretty damn close to this song. No other artist in recent memory has so wholly and unabashedly captured the nuance, the sensuality, the puerility of emotion, and what Jepsen does is shockingly simple — she’s honest. But to say only that would be to discredit her.
Carly Rae Jepsen has turned emotional honesty into a fine craft; she’s mastered the art of owning each and every one of your feelings: the exhilaration of romance, the desperation of the chase, the heightened euphoria of first love, and the absolute contentment of emotional intimacy with another human being.
Through coy yet brazen vocals against musical backdrops that, in any other hands, would sound cheesy, Jepsen is somehow elevated to the realm of sincerity. She not only captures the E-MOT-IONS that her 2015 album is so aptly named after, but she brings them to life. And this is what demarcates her from her peers: her music ignites feelings of soaring to great heights without the fear of crashing back afterwards. It’s corny and it’s embarrassing, but it’s real.
Jepsen’s cult of personality has developed around this uncanny ability to impart a gauntlet of emotions — excitement, anxiety, introspection — but ultimately inspire hope within the listener.
Listening to the opening notes of ‘Cut To The Feeling’, my chest swells, my heart beats in rapid succession and I rustle impatiently waiting for the chorus to drop — after which I’ll sing loudly and badly with far too much passion, but not nearly as much as Carly Rae Jepsen.
She’s a poet, a prophet, and a philosopher, all in the package of a pop artist.