Carly Rae Jepsen’s Joy and Pain in ‘Dedicated’

By: Patricia Kusumaningtyas |

Carly Rae Jepsen, the world’s most dynamic pop musician who got her start from viral earworm “Call Me Maybe,” is back with her latest album. “Dedicated” is her first album since her critical darling “Emotion,” which featured songs like “I Really Like You” and “Run Away With Me.” The release of the album has also been a big viral moment in pop music, since it is the album with the highest Metacritic user score of all time. Her first single is “Party for One,” released late last year, which celebrates the joys of being alone and loving yourself. Now, we get to see the single in the full picture of the album—and while the album sometimes trips in its missteps, it is still a solid direction in Carly Rae Jepsen’s career.

When we listen to any of Carly Rae Jepsen’s songs, we know her influences; we can instantly feel the synesthesia of her pop predecessors from the 80s. This rings true in “Dedicated,” however, we hear a lot of other new sounds too. In the Jack Antonoff-produced “Want You in My Room,” we hear Jepsen using spoken word delivery a-la Ariana Grande’s “7 Rings” or Taylor Swift’s “Look What You Made Me Do,” which fits the theme of the song. We can also hear a saxophone break nested inside the 80s synth beats. However, Jepsen doesn’t lose her flair in the track; we can still hear her playful vocal delivery and exuberant joy.

In “Everything He Needs,” Jepsen samples Harry Nilson in a slow, bubbly jam, culminating in the refrain where Jepsen sings “he needs me” repeatedly over happy synths, not only asserting dominance and agency over her feelings but also shows that she enjoys doing it. In “Too Much,” the midpoint track of the album, Jepsen feels the opposite, starting the song with “Am I bad for you?” and marking the refrain with what she feels too much in herself (“When I party, then I party too much / 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”). A listener can read this in a self-loathing note, much like Lorde’s “Liability,” but “Too Much” can also be read as a blatant, plain statement of its protagonist’s traits, and even can be read as a happy reclamation of the protagonist’s self, teasing the subject of interest into the protagonist’s circle. Jepsen really proves herself as a pop genius in this track.

However, the album gets dull during its second half, not displaying any lyrical flair that can beat its first half. “Party for One” is put at the end of the album, but the placement doesn’t feel impactful at all, as the rest of the album’s songs are placed arbitrarily. Maybe if the songs are ordered in a more thematic way (like Rosalía’s narrative of a fading relationship in her 2018 album “El Mal Querer”), the placement of the album’s first single would be more impactful.

Despite the missteps, Metacritic users aren’t wrong—“Dedicated” is a solid album full of exuberant joy, heartbreaking pains, and a simple resolution. Jepsen’s lyrical mastery and her excellent grasp and understanding of her pop predecessors cements her into one of modern pop’s greatest figures, even years after “Call Me Maybe.”

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