Carly Rae Jepsen couldn’t have seen this coming.
The humble pop singer, an also-ran on “Canadian Idol” in 2007, was plugging away with a modest career in her homeland when she came up with the song “Call Me Maybe.” She must have suspected it had hit potential — memorable hook, clever lines, clean production — but she probably never expected it to hit No. 1 on the American charts and spawn one of the most viral video trends in pop history.
And now here she is, fighting for her professional life to avoid the one-hit-wonder tag, yet in over her head with her new “Kiss.”
Turns out Jepsen is, after all, a humble pop singer.
The good news is she has already scored something of a second hit, a festive and fairly catchy “Good Time” featuring Owl City (aka Adam Young), who seems to inspire Jepsen’s performance level. Justin Bieber appears to do the same in his duet with Jepsen on “Beautiful,” an acoustic-based, bittersweet (and sappy) cut with lines like, “What makes you so beautiful is you don’t know how beautiful you are to me.”
Jepsen is on her own for the rest of “Kiss,” and perhaps not knowing what better to do, the 26-year-old goes after the teen/tween demographic with pop and dance-pop fluff.
She sounds like a semi-generic, young Kylie Minogue on the harmless, uptempo “Tiny Little Bows” and even hearkens back Minogue’s Stock-Aitken-Waterman era on the infectious “Hurt So Good.” Jepsen also embraces the heavier-handed production and determined lyrics of “Tonight I’m Getting Over You,” a churning respite from the featherweight stuff.
But from the inane “Curiosity” to the formulaic “Turn Me Up” to the tortured-cute “Guitar String/Wedding Ring” to the bland closer “Your Heart Is a Muscle,” Jepsen is simply treading water in the shallow pool.
Rating: 2.5 stars (out of five)
© 2012, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
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