Carly Rae Jepsen – E.MO.TION // Track-By-Track Review

A fact that will never be okay – E.MO.TION, which should’ve been the biggest album of the year, went on unnoticed by casual listeners. Its potential success was of course ruined by another fact that will never be okay – the release of E.MO.TION was an absolute mess. After releasing her sophomore effort “Kiss” to worldwide success, the recording sessions for Carly’s next album immediately started, but the initial release timeframe turned out almost a full two years before. Finally the release of E.MO.TION was announced in April 2015, but then, who thought releasing the album two months early to Japan was a good idea? All of this contributed to the underperformance of the record (and so much public confusion: “What happened to that Call Me Maybe girl?”), but still the place of E.MO.TION is not hard to find amongst pop culture, as it turned into an underrated and undiscovered pop record that’s irresistible to every pop listener.

Blue // Alvin
Green // Dan

Run Away With Meme

// Out of the list of missed hits that only got exponentially longer in recent years, this was one of the most prominent ones. Coming off from the biggest pop hit of 2012, the fact that this wasn’t chosen as the lead single is absolutely beyond me IN WHAT WAY I REALLY LIKE YOU BETTER THAN THIS? If anyone was to do a study on why E.MO.TION bombed, this has got to be the biggest reason. Fuck the world for not blasting this like Shape Of You on the radio because this is a 10/10.
// Here we have the biggest pop single of 2015, and among one of the underrated anthems of the ‘10s! Run Away With Me has everything that characterises a typical Carly song; sugary lyrics, infectious melodies and a M A S S I V E backing track! After releasing Kiss, this sound was exactly what I dreamt she’d do. From the saxophone riff, all the way to an almost inaudible bridge, she delivers quality! The meme campaign that tried to make the single happen was HILARIOUS too! Can’t wait to include it in the decade-end lists! 10/10

*insert title track of new testament*

// At the title track, Carly shows us what makes her so distinctively her in the pop field – how she manages to add so much sweetness into a track. Her innocent and sweet voice mixed with the extra touches of sugar brought by synths and harmonies is what makes both Kiss and EMOTION such wonderful albums of bubblegum pop. Carly also revealed in an interview that this is the track where she figured out that the 80s meets alternative production is what she wants to do. However, in an album full of 10/10s even an 8 seems like a below-average song, and holy shit imagine if “First Time” replaced this on the tracklist. 7.5/10
// Easily, Emotion is the grooviest track on the record, perfectly portraying the rush of being in love in a spotless way! I love how each instrument has a different rhythm that when mixed all together makes the song impossible to not dance to! Another hit that got away in my opinion. Many 80s acts would’ve KILLED for this track, both sweetness and happiness ooze out of every single note throughout. The chorus is again just incredible, reminds me of some other song which I cannot remember now, definitely 80s inspired! 10/10

I Really Ended You

// This song bugs me so much and it bugs me even more that out of the 250 songs that were created during the E.MO.TION sessions, this was one that made it onto the tracklist and THIS was the lead single that they went for. In one of the best pop albums of the decade what good qualities does this song have? The melodies are often over sugary, call the songwriting anything you like but for me repeating “Really” for six times is not a chorus, and I despise how “revelation” is sung in like 5 separate syllables. Tom Hanks and the single treatment can go back to the pool of mediocrity, and also holy fucking shit imagine if “Cut To The Feeling” replaced this on the tracklist. 3/10
// If Run Away With Me had the best chorus of 2015, I Really Like You had the second best! Despite having some of her most basic lyrics (!!!), its melody is just too catchy! There’s just nothing wrong with this song, the 1-2-3 punches served in these three songs leaves the listener KOed. This song has some kind of inner energy that makes you happy – something that doesn’t happen anymore with pop songs! Taking the listener back to high school crushes and portraying the exact feelings of telling someone you love them, Carly really did THAT! Contrary to what others may think *cough* Alvin *cough* it is clearly lead single material, let’s not fool ourselves, despite being one of the best pop albums ever released… no other song would have ever been a (moderate) success nowadays! 10/10

Gimmie ORGASMS

// After two mediocre songs we enter the territory of full-on perfection ughhhh this song is AMAZING. Just the somber intro transitioning into the thumping bass and raving bassline of the chorus is already enough to make this a certified anthem. I also adore the gradual build of the song – it’s not like the chorus is not already the best thing in the universe, but when the final chorus hits after the magnificent middle eight… truly orgasmic. 10/10
// After three amazing bangers, Carly decided to ruin the amazing tracklist! I know for sure the chorus is a blatant copy of some 80s hit, but I just can’t remember which! That’s mainly what I can’t stand about this track, other than that, the production is ecstatic! The highlight is definitely the bridge, truly a masterpiece! 5/10

All THAT

// “All That” is when the 80s throwback of the album truly shines bright, and this is the pure evidence that such simplicity can achieve such pop greatness, no beat drops or huge productions needed. It’s so easy to achieve and at the same time almost unprecedented, how a slow-tempo can make you feel so good. Isn’t that what pop is in the first place anyway? 10/10
// Her best song. Ever. A genius bassline, soft drum machine and syncopated piano chords is all needed to make this representation of heaven on Earth! Another example of how bass slaps are the grooviest thing ever to add to a song (see: “…Baby One More Time” & all those Britney songs that sound the same). 10/10

Wig Problems

// The 80s influence is strong going on to the 6th track of the album… apparently this was a single. “Gimmie Love” and later tracks are so much better choices but ANYWAY. This song is nothing but good vibes, and a little bit of synth, a little bit of na-na-na’s for fun, and Carly’s ever-so-crisp and sweet vocals brings another pop song well done. 8/10
// Definitely one of the most 80s inspired song of the album. I love the careless melodies and overall positivity of the song! Once again, the use of bass slaps uplifts the track to a whole new level of awesomeness! Overall, the song flows nicely and feels extremely free. The fadeout definitely wraps up the whole thing with even more 80s realness! 9/10

Snatching The Most Of The Night

// When the final chorus of the song hits and the instrumental fragments and distorts to Carly’s singing, the energy released has not been achieved by any other person, and this has been one of my favourite choruses ever. Especially when it’s followed by yet another flawless middle eight. And yes the glockenspiel is quite the amazing touch to this song. 10/10
// I don’t know why, but ever since Lorde dropped “Green Light,” I have always thought this song would’ve fitted much better for her than Carly! There’s something in the pre-chorus that makes me picture a bird flying across some kind of valley, making this one of my favourite songs on the record! At this point, the bridge formula used by her starts to get slightly tiring, the listener can easily guess what will happen after the slow breakdown, and drags down the overall feeling. Another issue I have with this track is that the last chorus is extremely weak, probably due to the instrumentation. A great addition is the glockenspiel-ish ending! 10/10

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Your Slayage

// “Your Type” is another simply made song that just hits the spot. It follows another suburban love story about a classic friend-zone situation, and though it’s true that everything here is quite predictable and doesn’t stand out after the slew of amazing bubbly pop singles, it’s probably still better than a ton of pop songs released in recent times. But the bubblegum atmosphere’s slowly getting quite diabetic… 7.5/10
// When she released “Your Type” as a promotional single, I loved it – it was probably the reason why I gave the album a chance at first! However, thankfully I’ve grown up since then and realised the utter garbage that the whole song is! Basic music, bland lyrics & predictable melodies! At this point, the breakdown formula has been repeated just too many times! She could’ve easily substituted this with “Cut To The Feeling” as they have the same ‘strength’. 2/10

Let’s Get Scalped

// …and now’s when the sweetness is getting hard to swallow. There’s no denying that the song exists perfectly on its own, as again everything is nicely done here. First verse leads nicely to a pre-chorus which leads nicely to a chorus, but it’s like those times in musicals where everything’s just too positive and fun, I feel like I’m watching a school play. Is it a good song overall? Yes, but holy mother of god imagine if “Fever” replaced this on the tracklist. 6.5/10
// aNd nOw’s whEn thE swEEtnEss Is gEttIng hArd tO swALLOw. Don’t listen to Alvin because he’s just bitter! A great, fun jam! Despite having once again some of the most basic lyrics ever, the feeling that lies underneath is so innocent and pure that’s simply refreshing! 10/10

LA Allahcinations

// This is Carly’s collaboration with little-known indie rock bands The Zolas and Data Romance (when you look up their profiles on Spotify you’d be surprised neither of the bands touch on anything that resembles pop), her dissection on the life of extravagance (“There’s a little black hole in my golden cup”) as she pleads for her man to take her away to the times when money and fame didn’t matter. With the clean production as always, it’s another pop tune well done. 8/10
// Despite being one of the songs I disliked the most from the album at first, LA Hallucinations is definitely one of the songs which I enjoy the most – probably because of its ‘odd’ choice of melodies and instrumentation! However, it sounds like filler in the context of the album. 6/10

Warm God

// The very penultimate track of E.MO.TION is when Carly finally gets a bit mysterious, and it’s so weird that it’s absolutely fantastic. Co-produced with former Vampire Weekend multi-instrumentalist Rostam Batmanglij to search for more left of center sounds, the bass-thumping, wobbly “Warm Blood” resembles the sounds of heart beating and blood pumping through the veins, as there isn’t a moment of stillness in the music. 10/10
// “Warm Blood” is clearly THE grower of E.MO.TION. It isn’t as big as other songs on the record in terms of sound, nonetheless it happens to have some of the sickest drum patterns in her discography. Lyrically, it is once again about love – no surprises! I think that is the biggest issue in E.MO.TION, that at some point lyrics get too repetitive. 10/10

When I Snatched You

// The record goes for an anthemic closer as Carly draws a conclusion after 11 songs of love fantasies and Boy Problems. She hesitates in the bridge still, but her resolution is to stay the fuck away from all that mess and wave out a big goodbye (“I don’t want to work it out.”) The 80s vibes return out of the shadows along with Ariel Rechtstaid who’s also produced “All That”. 7/10
// “All That” and “When I Needed You” are definitely the songs which seem taken straight of the 80s. Here she goes down the uptempo route though. Everything sounds perfect in this track, great synths, massive reverberated drums and a great chorus – nothing else is needed! 8 /10

Black HIT

// The short and snappy “Black Heart” is deluxe track 1, and while it sure is forgettable in this must-listen album, the quality doesn’t decrease. The 8-bit retro sounds and instrumentations brings the fun in the track, and it’s just a bit under 3 minutes so treat it as like a cute water break or something. 5.5/10
// “Black Heart” is one of those tracks I use to check people’s taste in music! Such sobriety was much needed in between so many loud anthems, the only thing I would change is its position in the tracklist – it should come earlier on, during the ‘diabetes-inducing’ part. At times it even reminds me a little bit of “Heart Of Glass” by Blondie! 10/10

read our feature on madonna’s “confessions on a dancefloor” here

I Didn’t Just Come Here To Smash

// Another home run from the instrumental break right from the beginning. The dance-pop beat sounds like it can be from “Kiss”, but the programming and production turns it into ten folds more polished and stylish. It’s the epitome of a perfect dance track, and the perfect evidence that E.MO.TION stays consistent even towards the end. 10/10
//  Featuring almost unnoticeable FX sounds used in I Really Like You, IDJCHTD goes off! Going back to the late 80s and 90s, Carly gives us her very first dancefloor anthem and makes me wonder what a mashup of this with Rhythm Of The Night would sound like. The piano break and the vocal chops are EVERYTHING. 9/10 

Favourite Wig

// With the soft beating of bass drums and filtered vocals through vocoders, “Favourite Colour” sounds like cotton candy from the first second, which isn’t a surprise. It’s still somewhere about the same kind of loving relationship, still the usual sweet and cute lyrics (“I’m bright baby blue, falling into you”), still classic Carly. Yet it still manages to sound so, so nice, and that’s just how easy making a good tune goes if you’ve found your one true direction, because everything fits so nicely. 9/10
// Favourite Colour is definitely one of the most nicely produced song in Emotion – every instrument sounds so mellow that makes you want to hug a pillow instantly and sing out loud the CELESTIAL bridge. I’ve always thought of this track as Emotion’s Wildest Dreams, but better. 10/10

Conclusion

// After completing this whole review I was quite confused with why I enjoyed listening to this record since its release. Every description of each song is somewhat similar – the bubblegum sound that may sound saccharine at times, the catchy hooks and choruses on top of the same dance-pop drum lines and bass slaps, the lyrics about boys and pleading love that seems to repeat itself over and over; E.MO.TION by description sounds like any other pop album. But Carly’s got something different that sets her apart, and it’s the incredibly smart songwriting (the hook in “Gimmie Love”) and detail in every “generic” pop beat, and the refreshing yet accessible sound that fits Carly so well, that makes the record so stylish and refreshing as a listen. Pop is defined as simple tunes with a formula to fit the general audience after all, but just a little more of effort can make such a difference, and that extra effort is exactly what Carly had.

Essentials – Run Away With Me, Gimmie Love, Warm Blood
(8.1 / 10)

//  It has been roughly 2 years since the release of the album and for me, it sounds quite boring now. EMOTION used to be one of my favourite pop records ever but nowadays it feels like she repeated the exact same lyrical themes over and over too many times. However, the songwriting genius is right there, with melodies that are catchy as hell! It still is a must-listen-to-before-you-die kind of album – just that overplaying it and time made me realise that it isn’t THAT good after all. Just as Alvin pointed out, it isn’t like we should expect much from formulaic pop music. Overall a solid piece of work, every song individually is single material but as a whole album, it isn’t the masterpiece people usually make it out to be.

Essentials – Run Away With Me, All That, Favourite Colour & Emotion
(8.6 / 10)

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