by Emma Turney
The magic of Carly Rae Jepsen is that even in her 33rd year of life she embraces the innocence and exuberance of childlike love with her head held high. After the worldwide 2012 smash “Call Me Maybe,” everyone desperately tried to write CRJ off as a one-hit wonder, but with the release of 2015’s cult favorite E•MO•TION, CRJ became the undisputed princess of all things pop, sparkly, and lovely. Following up a masterpiece like E•MO•TION is no small feat, but on Dedicated, CRJ’s confidence in love is refreshing and her ability to make us believe we can all be eighteen forever is unwavering.
What separates Dedicated from CRJ’s past work is that along with the addictive hooks she delivers, the production has been significantly spiced up. “Too Much,” CRJ’s anthem for being as extra as possible, is breathy with a beat so tangible it feels like you could grab it out of the air. The same can be said for its hook-less counterpart “The Sound,” which will definitely please CRJ’s cult following but likely not the average listener. The most exciting turn CRJ takes on Dedicated is with the Jack Antonoff produced, “Want You In My Room.” It clearly is straight out of Antonoff’s playbook: explosive choruses, saxophones, and shouty vocals (or at least as much of a shout as CRJ can muster). Then combined with CRJ’s racier lyrics: “I wanna do bad things to you / Slide on through my window,” the track is a full on slam-dunk.
Dedicated also finds CRJ more confident in her love life: instead of hiding from her feelings she becomes brashly dedicated to them. On “No Drug Like Me” she knowingly tells her partner “you ain’t find no drug like me,” on “For Sure” she’s fed up with his wavering feelings “Now I know what you want / But it’s too late.” CRJ is most cocky on her take of the pop-eye song “He Needs Me” (something truly only CRJ could pull off). “Everything He Needs” turns Popeye’s romance into a sparkling disco while simultaneously knowing that he needs her “You know, not just physically / Emotionally, spiritually, intellectually, sexually / All the ways.”
Over a 15 song record some tracks are bound to be duds and CRJ is no exception here. Songs like “Happy Not Knowing,” “I’ll Be Your Girl,” and “Real Love” are average pop songs that get lost in the catchiness of everything else. This is not to say that they are necessarily bad songs, but they don’t stick anywhere and ultimately distract from the real deal.
CRJ is expected to deliver the hits and although she takes more artistic freedom on Dedicated, the knockouts are there and boy do they hit you hard. “Now That I Found You” is the closest to previously released smash “Cut To The Feeling” with a classic pop hook “’Cause there’s nothing like this feeling, baby / Now that I found you.” However, nothing will hit you harder than the ode to a lost love, “Julien.” When the chorus breaks and CRJ calls out for Julien you can almost feel the glitter falling from the ceiling. CRJ admits that she’ll be whispering Julien “till the last breath that I breathe,” and after delivering Dedicated I may be whispering “Carly” till the last breath I breathe.