PART 6 ANNEX:

EMOTION SIDE B - A TRACK BY TRACK EXPLORATION


          We’ve reached Carly’s 2016 follow-up to Emotion:  Emotion Side B, and oh boy, are we going out with a bang.  This album hits the themes, sub-themes and narrative harder than ANY of Carly’s work.  “First Time” and “Fever” are about to blow your fucking mind.  Like we are going HARD DOUBLE BARREL BLACK DIAMOND FULLY CARLY on this album, and somehow, EVEN LESS SUBTLY THAN EVER BEFORE.

 

          Roughly HALF of the songs on this album involve begging/pressuring someone to spend the night with you who clearly has hesitations.  This is not fucking around.  Like you could do a think piece JUST on this album as a potential concept album, or a New Yorker article about its connections to Emotion.

 

          And the best part is: it’s fucking AWESOME music.  Three of my four favorite Carly songs are on this album.  If there’s only one thing this leaves you with, it’s “Emotion Side B” is a great album.

So.  Here we are.  Last one.

Let’s fucking DO this.

 

1- FIRST TIME

 

          MISERY/LONGING!  OBSESSION!  REJECTION!  Emotion Side B starts off with a bang, hitting themes and sub-themes head on in the opening lyrics, with a vintage Jepsen upbeat, happy sound song about being an absolutely depressed crying wreck who was rejected from a relationship before it even started.

 

          Like seriously, if you listened to this song without paying attention to the lyrics, you would NOT think it was a sad song.  This thing comes on like “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” and is literally about being left alone pining endlessly after someone who doesn’t want you.

 

Catching tears like raindrops here in the glass

Keep them safe in case you should ever ask

Or if you'd like, we don't need to talk about it

I don't care

I will wait right here by my windowsill

For the sun to come, if it ever will

Everyone says I can never get my fill but I don't care

 

          Carly pretty consistently positions herself as far away and forgotten by the person she blew it with, and these opening lyrics, she’s there more than ever.  She’s crying by her windowsill, pining after a lover and trying to play it cool, waiting for him forever to come back.  There’s an implication also of being Separation by Physical Distance/Geography, and also Not Saying Something or Saying Something She Regrets.

 

          “Everyone says I can never get my fill but I don’t care” is another namedrop of the “Black Heart” Carly; the romantically insatiable figure who appears on many songs, endlessly pursuing something Bad/Forbidden Love, whose friends warn her against pursuing a dead end on “Boy Problems.”

 

          It’s always been unclear to me if this figure is an innate piece of the Carly character that sings the songs, or more a coping mechanism created by the rejection of Her Love.  

 

          The question to me becomes centered around the idea of whether or not Carly is singing about many relationships or just one; is pursuing unavailable men a favorite songwriting subject, or are all these songs about a single incident?

 

          It’s this sort of question that makes the Narrative/Acts aspect of the Jepsen theory so tempting to engage with, but ultimately, impossible to conclusively prove.  Either Jepsen is playing a character, drawn to specific themes, or singing from her own experience, and ultimately there’s no way to know.

 

We won't get too sentimental, not tonight

I could meet you in the middle, we won't fight

 

          Here’s Carly attempting to reach a romantic compromise of some sort, again implying love or sentiment is somehow Bad/Forbidden Love.

 

Looking back, I followed you everywhere

We were kids just playing with truth and dare

Lets be honest

No one else can take me there, but I don't care

 

          A look into the past, when a younger, more earnest Carly felt an affection for someone, an admiration.  If you’ve been reading this in order, you’ll recognize this as the LA Hallucinations/Hotel Shampoos Carly, a young, naive person pursuing a relationship with a man who is in some way her collaborator or fellow artist, but also potentially more experienced or successful than she is.

 

          And then there’s the “no one else can take me there,” fitting into the All The Other Boys that try to chase me recurring theme of Carly specifying that the person who doesn’t want her is the only one she’s interested in, and everyone else falls short.

 

          I saved the chorus for last:

 

Cause when my heart breaks

It always feels like the first time, first time

But if you stay here

We could kiss away the goodbye, goodbye

Through all the heartbreak

We'll make it feel like the first time, first time

 

          I want to linger here for a moment on a massive, but thus-far mostly unaddressed element in Jepsen’s work, and that’s the use of HYPOTHETICAL situations.  In the majority of her ESCAPE songs, and even most of her LIMERENCE songs, Jepsen describes romantic or intimate situations as proposals, sort of “pitches” of what “could be,” usually framed as being sent from a place of deep emotional need, like “c’mon let’s do this please.”

 

          Carly almost never describes a current “happy” reality.  Instead, the hypothetical situations Carly pitches in her songs generally fall into three categories:

 

  • Hypothetical Romantic Escape From A Vaguely Unhappy Situation, like “Making The Most Of The Night” or “Melt With You”

  • Hypothetical Romantic Entanglement After, like “Sweetie” or “I Really Like You”

  • Hypothetical Romantic Reunion, like this song, “First Time”

           

           With the notable possible exception of “Drive,” Carly is never in an ongoing relationship, and, along the same lines, with the notable exception of “Store,” Carly is almost never “over” someone; all of her break up songs, if you can even call them that, contain some version of “But actually I’m still waiting, and in a hypothetical were you to came back, I wouldn’t mess it up this time and everything would be great.”

 

            I’m taking some time to point this out now, because it comes back heavy on this album.  The chorus of First Time is a wonderful microcosm of this theme.  Clearly this person has left her, maybe even hurt her or broke her heart repeatedly, and earlier she expressed that to be with him she’d have to “not get sentimental.”  Oh but MAYBE if he just ACCEPTED HER and they KISSED everything would be perfect!

 

            It’s this sentiment, the “No but please just give me a chance” aspect of Jepsen’s work, that I think is a fundamental unspoken element of her appeal.  Carly Rae’s focus on rejection, longing and depression is VULNERABLE.  Call Me Maybe is VULNERABLE, it’s sweet, it’s confident only in the most cautious, hopeful, eyes down, hands in the pockets way.

            Even when she’s kicking ass and having an amazing time, there’s always some element introduced to namedrop that it is weird, suspicious, very new, or temporary. But those are rare: more often than not, the good times are in an imaginary future, or buried deep in the past.

 

2 - HIGHER

 

          Back to LIMERENCE, full force, on what might be my personal favorite song of Jepsen’s.  As I mentioned, in a lot of ways Emotion Side B feels like a focused actualization of many of Carly’s sub-themes; since her first album, Carly has repeatedly stated the want or need to get “high,” and repeatedly equated love with being “High.

 

          This bursting-with-energy powerhouse is wonderfully Jepsen in its deceptiveness.  A loose listen would make you think it appears to be describing a wonderful ongoing romantic relationship, but a closer examination reveals the truth.

 

I was lost

Alone, and searchin'

For someone who understands me for who I really am

Didn't know that I was hurtin'

'Til you lift me up inside, finally opened up my eyes, oh

 

          Here’s the subtheme of being In A Bad or Dark Place Until She Met Her Lover. It would seem, out of context, to be a very basic love song trope, but in context, we see that Carly has REPEATEDLY expressed feelings of being Lost And Alone before meeting someone who changes everything, and even sung whole songs about this period, like “Worldly Matters,” a song very literally about being “lost, alone and searching.”

 

If you wanna know what I'm thinkin'

Ever since you came, I'm livin'

On top of the world, I can't deny

Every one of my fears has vanished

And I don't know how you managed

To wake me up and come alive

 

          We have a small nod to the subtheme of Dreams/Sleep/Beds here, but the bigger news is way more subtle.  Have you noticed that Carly still hasn’t said she’s with this person; Higher is very possibly something closer to “Call Me Maybe” or “I Really Like You,” a bubbly, enthusiastic declaration of love.  The similarities don’t stop there: like Call Me Maybe and I Really Like You, Higher was the first single off its album.

 

“”

You take me higher than the rest (hey)

Oh, everybody else is second best (oh-oh-oh-oh)

You pulled a gem out of a mess

I was so cynical before, I must confess

“”

 

          Here we find the usual call in to the idea that Carly was in a bad or negative space before meeting Her Love, and as usual, the idea that Her New Love has dispelled her unhappiness completely, framing herself as cynical and that being instantaneously over.

 

          And then there’s the “The Rest,” back to the subtheme of All The Other Boys that try to chase me from Call Me Maybe.  It’s rare to see an artist single out that there were inferior competitors for her affection; they were even given names on “Didn’t Just Come Here To Dance,” remember?

 

“”

Took some time

A few mistakes, but

You quite didn't show me how

Never let me hit the ground

All the love was hesitating

But ever since you came around

I feel more than safe and sound, yeah

“”

 

          These are great lyrics; one kind of wonders what the “mistakes” mentioned are referring to, in both the “learning to fly” metaphor and the “falling in love” metaphor, but that drifts past in the face of the idea that there was no love until this person arrived, and now everything is going to be great.

 

          Again, she doesn’t specify she’s actually with the person, and that continues throughout the entire song.

 

          As with the majority of Carly’s “love” songs, this is more of a confession, a declaration.  In many ways, via its wording, it inherently doesn’t require the other person to reciprocate.  Though at one point she says his love “turns her on,” she doesn’t really go into that, and instead again focuses on explaining how he makes her feel,

 

          Like “Call Me Maybe” and “I Really Like You,” this makes the song come across as a kind of blushing, enthusiastic confession, i.e.: “I need to tell you how I feel,” given as a pitch or a proposition for a relationship, containing flustered apologetic language.  In Call Me Maybe, “this is crazy,” in I Really Like You it comes in the form of “It’s way too soon,” and here, it comes in the form of literally using the word “confess” within the lyrics.

 

3 - THE ONE

 

          So, wow, this one is…This one is a doozy.  It’s a TEMPTATION song, but in a radically different way than anything else Carly’s done.

 

          Though it ultimately fits the pattern, it’s extremely hard to categorize tonally, because of how utterly bizarre the subject matter is.  This is a song that’s layered, thematically; it appears to be one thing, but it’s actually something else, in a more complex way than Carly’s primary catalogue.  It’s kind of a Russian Nesting Doll, song-within-a-song, Inception type of scenario, and it took me several read-throughs to settle on what it was actually about.

 

          If you’re barely listening, it sounds like a song about a girl who is being pressured into sex by her friend and is too drunk and indifferent to resist.  Listen closer, and it appears to be about a girl who’s comfortable with a one night stand, but doesn’t want a relationship.

 

          It’s not about this, either.

 

          Sit down with the lyrics, and it becomes clear: This is a song about a girl who is either pretending or in denial about being in love with her friend.  Because this song assumes a flippant attitude, it’s EXTREMELY misleading at a glance.

 

          Let’s get in there, cut through the cognitive dissonance, and take a look at “The One.”

 

“”

Truth is I never thought of us together

You're just a friend of mine

We should know better

This can't last forever

Kiss me one more time

“”

 

          So it’s already off to a very complicated start.  We have two Friends Upgrading To Lovers

and entered into Bad/Forbidden Love, and both of them should know better, and it should probably send soon.

 

          Now this isn’t a rarity amongst Carly’s songs, as I’m sure you’ve noticed by now.  “OUR LOVE IS WRONG OR A MISTAKE OR SOMEHOW FORBIDDEN” should be on the cover art of all of Carly’s albums and in giant neon writing during all her live shows, that’s not news.  But there’s another element going on here that took me forever to figure out.

 

         See that first lyric?  “Truth is I never thought of us together.”  That’s extremely out of character for Carly. Cynicism of that nature is usually reserved for dismissal of the people who would get in the way of Carly and Her Love.

 

          Carly being the pursued, rather than the pursuer is a huge shift.  It represents a situation where Carly is desired, and chased after, by her lover, rather than expressing her LIMERENCE and OBSESSION, proposing they ESCAPE, or pining for them in MISERY.  This is something completely new.

 

          Or at least it would be, if that’s what actually was going on in this song.

 

“”

Romance is fine, pour me some wine

Tell me it's just for the fun of it

Far from your eyes, hard to deny when

I don't want love, don't want none of it

“”

 

          Ah, okay, now we’re in slightly more familiar territory.  Here we have the guy minimizing the connection between them, saying it’s “just for the fun.”  Carly espouses agreement; it’s just for fun, and she DOESN’T WANT LOVE.

 

“”

If you want to, you can stay the night

I don't want to be the one, the one

If you want to, you can hold me tight

I don't want to be the one, the one

It's too much pressure

It's too much pressure

It's too much pressure

I don't want to be the one, the one

“”

 

          This chorus is PACKED with layered meaning, and actually REALLY confusing.  Carly appears to express indifference, putting onus and imperative onto Her Love, saying basically “I dunno dude, do what you want,” but then it changes.

 

          What’s this “I don’t want to be the one?”  A casual glance could lend the idea that Carly is saying she’ll have casual sex with him, but doesn’t want to be “The One,” i.e., his true love.  But sandwiched between her putting the imperative on him and then “it’s too much pressure,” the phrase “the one” takes on a different meaning.

 

“”

We're cookin' dinner, I wear your socks and slippers

It's been a long, long day

It's just so easy, love the way you read me

I never have to say

“”

 

          There’s the siren and the flashing lights; it’s a Jepsen Second Verse Twist, transmogrifying and re-contextualizing the entire song.  Does this sound like a one night stand?  Does this sound like Carly doesn’t care?

 

          We have the Saying Something Without Actually Speaking subtheme here, but more impactfully, it becomes clear what “The One” really means: She doesn’t want to have to be the one who makes a move.  They’ve hooked up several times, and she’s been the one to make a move, but this time, it’s too much pressure, and she wants him to take initiative.

 

          The whole cooking and wearing someone’s clothes and loving how easy it is to be with someone and loving the way they understand you after a long day is not day one shit.  It’s not friends shit.  She is in love with this dude.

 

“”

Don't fall in love, fall in love, fall in love, fall in love

Don't fall in love, fall in love, fall in love, fall in love

Don't fall in love, fall in love, fall in love, fall in love

Don't fall in love, fall in love, fall in love, fall in love

“”

 

          This part is interesting, because it leans on the assumption she’s talking about him, when it’s just as likely she’s talking about herself, repeating a mantra to protect from heartbreak.

Throughout this song, we have leitmotifs; Being In Someone’s Arms, Spending The Night Together, but they’re subtle, and if it were any other artist, you’d barely notice them.  Only in the larger pattern do they stick out like sore thumbs.  Carly trying to pretend not to care on The One is an atypical position for her to take…

 

          …But asking people to stay the night, specifically in those words, is going to come back in two more songs on this album.

4 - FEVER

 

          OBSESSION.  REJECTION.  MISERY.  This is Carly Classic, acid-burn cherry soda.

Fever, to me, is iconic because it’s one of the songs that leans heavily into the pattern, creates a metaphor for it that ALSO fits the rubric, and then seasons this jambalaya with new, specific details that add color and depth to the story it tells.

 

          Fever is one of the main songs I point to when I talk about the Jepsen Theory; it is blatant, but articulate, in its evocation of Carly’s primary thematic unifier:  DESPERATION.  And thusly, it joins its peers like “More Than A Memory,” “Almost Said It” and “Tell Me” as a truly tragic KEYSTONE SONG.

 

          This song is like a very crowded airport, with familiar leitmotifs and sub-themes crisscrossing in all directions.  Hang on to your hat.  Your Max Landis Brand Carly Rae Jepsen Tin Foil Conspiracy Hat.

 

“”

Don't tell me this is how it ends

I burn a fever that I caught from you

My breath was lost when you said "friends"

Well that could work but I'm still hot for you

“”

 

          Lovers Have Become Friends, Carly’s intimacy with Her Lover being downgraded against her will to platonic affection, and she’s not happy about it.  Nothing new here, but what’s incredible is the evolution in the next lyric.

 

“”

So I stole your bike

And I rode all night

But I'm so damn scared

You don't even care

“”

 

          Two more sub-themes already here:  Staying Up All Night and being afraid of Being Forgotten, plus the wonderful image of being so mad you got friend-zoned that you steal someone’s bike.  But there’s a chance this guy does not take Carly seriously at all; he might not even care she stole the bike.

 

          That’s the level of emotional investment her “Friend” has in her and her emotional plight.

 

“”

You wanna break my heart, alright

I caught your fever, I'll be feeling it forever

You want a brand new start, alright

I caught your fever, I'll be feeling it forever

“”

 

          So here we have yet another subtheme, of Love Being A Bad Thing, like a sickness that you’re trapped with forever; you could also argue that this fits the subtheme of being Stuck In Someone’s Head.

 

          Let’s also briefly talk about the fact that Carly NEVER ends up independent and happy.  Relationships almost always end in isolation, rejection, and longing to be together again; Beyonce, she is not.  There is no “to the left to the left” for Jepsen.  There is no “What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger.”

 

          Carly always ends up twisted, alone, and trapped with a love she cannot force herself to forget.  Fever is a whole song just about that.

 

“”

I've still been sleeping at my friend's

Dropped off your helmet and lock for me

I wrote some things I didn't send

Three words to say that meant a lot to me

“”

 

          There’s an argument to be made here that they were living together, but the nature of the “break-up” described doesn’t sound intense enough for an actual couple; it sounds more like the deceleration of a fling, and the lyrics back that up, so I’d like to indulge the idea that she’s with the friend for emotional support, rather than shelter.

 

          So, the “dropping off the helmet and the lock” is a nice move of this dude who just broke her heart, but then again we have the idea of Not Saying Something/Saying Something You Regret.  Here, the unsaid thing is probably the three words that I believe are the cause of many of Carly’s regrets: “I love you.”

 

          As I said, the lyrics back up the idea that they weren’t living together; “I Love You” is kind of a prerequisite in most of those situations.  Let’s see what Carly does next.

 

“”

So I rode your bike

To your house last night

And I'm so damn scared

Cause your car's not there

“”

 

          Ah, that itself forms a KEYSTONE lyric.  I love when this happens; it makes the whole thing so much more exhilarating.  See, this sentiment actually links us very directly back to “Tug Of War,” on which Carly opined “Don’t go out with the girls tonight, I will turn to drink, wondering who you’re screwing.”

 

          That sentiment is repeated here; not only is this person already over her, but he’s already out on the town, very possibly in the arms of someone else.

 

“”

And my lights stay up, but your city sleeps

It's a different world when you're not here with me

Go on and break my heart tonight

I caught your fever, I'll be feeling it forever

“”

 

          More Staying Up All Night, and even a possible hint to Separation by Physical Distance/Geography as Carly accepts defeat, slouching into her sickbed of obsession and rejection.  That sentiment, “I’ve caught your fever, I’ll be feeling it forever” truly sticks out to me.

 

          Because it feels so honest, in the context of everything else.  She is feeling it forever.

 

          Or, if not forever, then for AT LEAST three albums.

 

5 - BODY LANGUAGE

 

          TEMPTATION, SECRETS and ESCAPE take center stage on this track, with an undercurrent of REJECTION. In as calm and reasonable a tone as she can muster, Carly attempts to convince her disinterested and emotionally unavailable friend to have sex with her.

 

          I’m not being even a smidge hyperbolic here, either.  As with the majority of the songs on Emotion Side B, we are dealing with High Grade Carly Methamphetamine, ten years in the game having honed her artistic focus so much that she’s able to exercise the rubric and still keep it catchy every time.

 

          I mean come on: this song’s title is literally Saying Something Without Actually Saying It, one of Carly’s major sub-themes.  And, like other songs dedicated entirely to specific sub-themes, Carly goes hard as fuck on lyrical specificity in explaining and contextualizing that THIS IS NOT A LOVE SONG in any typical sense of the term.

 

          Carly’s a very sharp knife at this point; just look at the way she artfully slam-crams shitloads of familiar sub-themes into the opening verse:

 

“”

I think I'm in trouble, I can't see the end

I call you my lover, you call me your friend

I'm keeping it secret, yeah even from you

I call you my lover, oh what can I do?

“”

 

          Four lyrics in, and we’ve got Love As A Fatal Or Dangerous Thing, being Stuck In Her Head/ Trapped By Emotions and Lovers Downgrading To Friends.

 

“”

I've been lonely baby, I

I've been hangin' on the line

(Been hangin' on the line)

And if you love me baby, don't

Don't, don't hang up this time

“”

 

          Guess where Carly is?  She’s In A Bad Or Dark Place lately.  But I think we both knew that.  But there’s hope! Guess who it is?  Her Love!  But you guessed that too, didn’t you?  You’re getting good at this.  Soon you and me can get matching QUEEN CARLY inner lip tattoos.

 

          It would be remiss not to point out the “this time.”  It implies Carly has to some degree put out feelers of her love for Her Friend in the past, and they didn’t go over well.  This notion is backed up on the chorus.

 

“”

Body language will do the trick

If you stay with me tonight, then we'll talk it over

That's the danger with missing it

I just think we're overthinking it, I think we're overthinking it

“”

 

          So yeah, this is a deeply clever lyric.  When Carly asks you to spend the night, she’s actually asking you to Stay Up All Night, because when she says “We’ll talk it over,” think about what she means.  How do you talk with “Body Language?”

 

          Carly is talking about S-E-X, major big time bone zone.  The plan for the evening is: they’re gonna have a lot of sex and he’s gonna fall in love with her and not reject her this time.  Cause he’s been holding back; “overthinking it.”  She is literally, on this chorus, saying “Stop overthinking it and hesitating and have sex with me.”

 

          She continues her pitch in the second verse:

 

“”

This could be perfect, that we could be free

To do what we wanted, you do it to me

We only just started, don't say it's the end

So call me your lover, don't call me your friend

“”

 

          Again, the escape.  The idea that some kind of outside force is trapping them and stopping them from being together.  She again implies that he has unspoken desire for her, and, as on many of her songs, “I Know You Have A Girlfriend” and “Almost Said It,” it feels like projection.

 

          This guy is already in danger of saying, or, as it’s implied earlier, HAS ALREADY SAID he is not interested. And yet Carly persists. “You do it to me.”  At last, she wouldn’t be doing all the “Heavy Lifting.”

 

          Cause that’s a Carly song about this also.

 

          Do you even remember that song?  Has it all blurred together?

 

          My brain is a haunted swamp of Jepsen at this point; I imagine you walking up a dirt path, listening to the frogs in the grass, the Banyon trees forming a canopy under which you move in blue moonlight, pulling your jacket tighter against the cold as you make your way to my little New Orleans shack on the water.

 

          You push open the old wooden door with a loud creak.  “Hello?”  You say, a tremble in your voice.  You can only hear vague muttering from the corner, a hoarse voice saying “No, don’t compare it to other popstars, other popstars don’t do this, it’s a unique phenomenon.”

 

          You consider leaving, but then suddenly I rise, lit by a flickering lantern, the orange and yellow light illuminating me from below and giving my face a hollow, shadowed look, my eyes sunken like a horrible dead skull.  You shudder, stepping back.

 

          The light from the lantern just barely reveals words scratched into the wood of the wall behind me: “I THREW A WISH IN THE WELL, DON’T ASK ME I’LL NEVER TELL.”  Under that, scrawled in blood, are the words “THE PATTERN IS REAL.”

 

          A dead, half eaten raccoon lays rotting in the corner, next to a copy of TUG OF WAR on vinyl.

Will you leave?  Will you stay?  I raise a single entreating hand, beckoning you forward.

“Please.”  I say, my voice cracking.  “Please, there’s just three more songs left.”

 

6 - CRY

 

          Though desperation and sadness pervade Carly’s discography the way blue pervades the sky, outright up-and-up sad songs that don’t wrap their heartbreak in bubblegum are relatively rare for her outside of Tug Of War.

 

          Not this time.  On “Cry” we’re dealing with a song where the bridge is literally just Carly singing the words “I wake up without you” again and again and again in a squeaky, near-tears voice, punctuated by yelling the word “cry.”

 

          But “Cry” is special for more reasons than just being a sultry bummer.  Entrenched firmly in themes of MISERY, REJECTION, “Cry” functions almost suspiciously well as a direct sequel to “Body Language,” and an attachment piece to “The One,” all three of which are specifically about casual sex with a platonic friend who you want to love you.

 

          Remember way back in Part 1 when that would’ve blown your mind?

 

          Right?

 

          You were so young then.  We’ve been through so much together.  At this point you’re like: Of course those three songs are connected by a super specific theme.  They all are, jeez.  It’s hard to ignore this furthering the nascent Carly Narrative Theory, and forming a really interesting bridge between Act 1 and Act 2 of the wider implied narrative.

 

          On Body Language, Carly entreated a hesitant, emotionally uninvolved friend to stay the night and have sex with her, despite him refusing her in the past.  Cry is almost literally the same song all over again, with one crucial difference:

 

          He gave in.  They’re hooking up.  But…it’s going badly.  Carly’s assurances that “This could be perfect, we could be free” on Body Language have dissolved into fantasy, and now, Carly is being used for sex by someone who is already in the process of rejecting her, and never really went there emotionally in the first place.


          Cue Carly Rae Jepsen Theme, basically.

 

“”

You’re king of the castle

Whenever you're here, you know it feels right

Don't need to worry

Don't need to move, I've got the spotlight

“”

 

          These lyrics are just legit weird.  We’ve got the term “King Of The Castle,” which is generally used to denote a manly sort of Leader Of The House And Family type figure, which is weird, because then she immediately reveals this guy does not actually live with her, and him not living with her is in fact a key element of the song.

 

          Carly saying she has the spotlight, and urging him not to worry makes more sense; the well trodden path of Carly as both the saved and the savior, offering a salvation from whatever Her Love is going through, being the person to love him best.

 

“”

I want you to

Do you want to?

I want you to stay tonight

I want you to stay

I want you to

“”

 

          There’s the old projection of desire bit, where someone Isn’t Saying Something, along with the subtheme of Spending The Night Together.  Carly again is echoing “Body Language,” the old “I Want You To Want Me” bit (more on that later).

 

          Except here, as it will soon be revealed, “stay tonight” isn’t just a metaphor, it’s an alarmingly literal request of how much chronological time someone is spending in a given location.

 

“”

He never wants to strip down to his feelings

He never wants to kiss and close his eyes

He never wants to cry-y-y, cry-y-y

I never really know when he'll be leaving

And even with hello I hear goodbye

He always makes me cry-y-y, cry-y-y

“”

 

          This person is emotionally unavailable to Carly.  Remember on “Black Heart,” when she says someone will “cry to your generation, but you won’t cry to me?”  There’s another direct link: it feels again like she’s talking about the same person, the same relationship, and in doing so, making the narrative theory frustratingly compelling.

 

          She knows what she has with this guy is temporary and alienatingly cold; she is crying and alone because Her Love is fundamentally not interested in her as anything more than a sex object.

 

          Now, you might be wondering where I’m getting the “sex object” thing.  So far, like many of Carly’s songs, we have a perceived rejection without any concrete proof there was any true intimacy in the first place.

 

          Not this time, though.  Check it out:

 

“”

Wake up without you

Flood in my room, I see your headlights

And you got your reasons

You've got a way that makes it alright

“”

 

          So yeah, Her Love and her have sex, and he leaves in his Car shortly thereafter, leaving a dazed Carly to ponder his departure.  He literally doesn’t stay the night.

 

          She then says he has “A way to make it alright.”  Sure.  Yeah, except he doesn’t, and the rest of the song is spent repeating the verses about how he makes her cry-y-y.

 

          What a fucking bummer.  But hey, she went into this knowing what she was getting.

 

7 - STORE

 

          Pardon my lack of eloquence here, but: this song is fucking weird.

 

          The choice to make it the 7th song on the EP, conscious or unconscious, makes it very hard not to notice an extremely surreal “echoing” effect within the song’s lyrics, subject and word choice, that reflects, on its own, separated from the context of the Unified Jepsen Theory, separated even from the context of being a Jepsen tune, it seems like a normal, bubbly, jokey You Go Girl break-up song.  But once you place it within the rubric, this song is deeply strange.

 

          So let’s get the premise out of the way: For the first and only time on all of Carly’s songs, it’s Carly who’s doing the dumping.  This is Carly’s only song that features her willingly ending a relationship.  But even so, it goes above and beyond to fit The Pattern.  And that’s what makes it so strange.

 

          See, this is a REJECTION/ESCAPE/SECRETS song, about Carly leaving a guy for a different, new guy, via the goofy metaphor that she’s just “going to the store,” presumably never to return.  But I mean…Okay, look, the best way to do this is just to let you see it for yourself.

 

“”

Sunlight, moves upon my skin

Wake up and I'm next to you

But I wish that I was next to him

Looks like this could be the end

Know that you'll be alright

Maybe one day we'll be friends

“”

          See that?  Spending The Night Together and Lovers Downgrading To Friends.  Ostensibly, this should be a song that breaks the pattern; after all, the subject matter is flipped.  And yet, we are STILL hitting sub-themes loud and clear.

 

          And, I know this will sound a little nuts, and it might just be me being too microscopic in my examination, but one song previous, on “Cry,” Carly said Her Love had a way of making it “alright” that he was leaving her.

 

          Here, she tells the person being dumped that he’ll “be alright” now that she’s leaving.  Check out this next part, too, which features another repeated idea from “Cry:”

 

“”

I'm not that good at goodbyes

Sometimes it's best to just fly

Ask where we're going, oh, I

Can't talk about it, can't talk about it cause

“”

 

          Okay so bear with me here because this is hard to pin down and might just be me being crazy this time, but…It’s just the words and wording here that sticks out so much when set closely against the other songs on the album; she’s literally using the same words to describe the opposite situation.  Remember on “Cry” she talks about “goodbyes” too, and the “Can’t talk about it” does seem to pair loosely with “we’ll talk it over” from Body Language.  Maybe I’m reaching on that, but what’s not debatable is the slightly modified nature of the ESCAPE theme on this song.

 

          Usually Carly is fantasizing about an escape WITH someone, to “fly” WITH someone.  This is the only song where she specifies an escape FROM one of All The Other Boys, and of course, the escape she’s describing is Being In Someone’s Arms, the arms of a different boy, Her Love.

 

“”

I'm just goin' to the store, to the store

I'm just goin' to the store

You might not see me anymore, anymore

I'm just goin' to the store

“”

 

          It’s a bit of a mindfuck; Carly really only has two songs where the You she sings to isn’t Her Love: “Store” and “Boy Problems.”  And, fascinatingly, both of them are centered around the idea of letting her audience down or hurting them in the exact same way:

 

          On “Boy Problems,” she’s singing about frustrating and alienating her best female friend…Because of a guy she wants to be with.

 

          On “Store,” she’s singing about dumping and alienating her boyfriend…Because of a guy she wants to be with more.

 

          “Store” isn’t an empowered break up song, just like “Boy Problems” isn’t an empowering song about female friendship.  They’re both about the desire for Her Love destroying a preexisting relationship, with no guarantee that this new person even actually cares about her.

“”

Don't cry

I can't play pretend

Wish it hadn't come to this

But you know there's some things you can't mend

“”

 

          There’s the “don’t cry,” echoing into “Cry:” unlike the guy in that song, who she WANTS to cry in front of her, this guy, the Boy From Before who is undoubtedly one of All The Other Boys, is low-key annoying her with his tears; she can’t play pretend.  The whole sentiment here being the diametric opposite of Body Language is really noticeable in contrast, if you’re looking for it.

 

          This “empowered” Carly isn’t really empowered at all, just kind being kind of an insensitive jerk, actually. She’s leapfrogging from relationship to relationship, turning this break up on her end into a disinvested jokey gag, that she’s “going to the store” and he should hurry up and exit her life to allow room for the new guy.

 

8 - ROSES

 

          “Roses” is the direct, unabashed sequel to the track “Black Heart” from Emotion.  The songs contain thematic and lyrical crossover, as well as a few images that tie them together very directly.

 

          But the connections to other songs don’t end there; “Roses” is its own little micro-universe, containing myriad lyrical hat-tips to previous Carly tracks.  It’s songs with direct, flashing-neon-sign connections like these that make me think Jepsen, at least on some level, is aware of the massive pattern I’ve uncovered.

 

          Before we start with this song, let’s talk about trees.  There’s a lyric I didn’t mention in my analysis of the song “Black Heart,” from Emotion, that’s very worth bringing up now. Trees, in Carly’s work, seem to represent “hope.”  There’s, “Make your arms a willow tree,” on “Money And The Ego,” and the cedar tree she wants to climb to get higher on “Worldly Matters.”

 

          There’s also an unreleased, possibly unrecorded track that I can’t find called “Cutting Down The Big Tree.”  It’s the first song Jepsen ever wrote.  She was nine.

 

          And then there’s the Blossom Tree.  The Blossom Tree appears in two songs.  “Roses” and “Black Heart.”  What is its importance?  What does it represent?  “Roses” is overflowing with connections to other songs, but that Blossom Tree sticks out.

 

          Let’s begin: OBSESSION, REJECTION, and deep, heartfelt MISERY.

 

“”

Knock on the door, leaving it open

It wasn't you, why was I hoping?

Said it before and I'll say it again

That I'll always be here when you need a friend

“”

 

          So “doors” isn’t truly a subtheme, but I would at this point like to remind you of this lyric from the Keystone Song “Tell Me:”

 

          — Inside you there’s a room, A room with a door, I finally come knocking

          —And let’s also take a look at this lyric from “Curiosity:”

          — Knew that you would come before you ever even made a sound, I know, I know, I know you got the key ---

 

          And here’s one more, you haven’t seen yet, from Carly’s unreleased second song ever, “To Be Without You:”

 

          — To live without you is like a room without a door —

 

          There’s a textural thing at play here, the idea of a long awaited arrival (in both an emotional and physical sense), leaning into the idea that these people knew each other before they were lovers, which makes sense, because it looks like Lovers Have Downgraded To Friends.

 

          Carly, however, hasn’t moved on, and as always, offers her companionship.  She then moves on to recount a memory of the rejection itself.

 

“”

I sat with you on my bedroom floor

And I couldn't move, all that we were losing

I saw you like I never did before

I never did before

“”

 

          Oof, rough.  Poor Carly, another rough friend-zoning, but, again, we have a super direct lyrical connection to a much earlier Carly song, “Heavy Lifting” off Tug Of War, on which Carly sings the following:

 

          — I see a side of you I never saw before —

 

          These lyrical crossovers feel intentional, or at least purposeful.  Again, she seems to be describing the same specific relationship, or at least drawing from the same well of emotions.  This is furthered in the next couple lyrics.

 

“”

And I can feel you reaching through the cracks

A simple change of seasons and you're back

All the roses in the garden fade to black, ooh-ooh

“”

 

          I’ll take this moment to remind you of this lyric from “Black Heart” if you don’t mind:

 

          — In your black heart, is where you'll find me, cutting through the cracks of the concrete —

 

          Even the most cynical doofus could see the connection here; it’s not exactly subtextual.  The metaphor of cracked concrete separating two people, mixed with the color black and the darkness of night is a Carly trope, by now.

 

“”

Yeah I can feel you reaching through the cracks

A simple change of heart and you attack

All the roses in the garden fade to black, ooh-ooh

I won't take it back

“”

 

          So I think the change of heart referred to here is Carly Saying Something She Regrets, and that read is seemingly confirmed by the final “I won’t take it back.”  It being a change of heart that leads to an attack or rejection implies again, to me anyway, that the thing she regrets saying was “I love you,” the “three simple words” from “Fever.”

 

“”

Cat got your tongue, it's been forever

Have you been good? Have you been better?

I've said it before, I'll say it again

That I'll always be here if you need a friend

“”

 

          That to me counts as Saying Something Without Speaking, because the message is clear.  This is a person who has purposely not spoken to Carly for a long time, and who is very possibly made uncomfortable by Carly’s presence.

 

          It also kind of sounds like they’ve been separated by geographical distance, but there’s no hard evidence of that here so I’m not gonna put it up on the scoreboard.  I’ve been keeping a scoreboard this whole time.  It’s a mess.

 

“”

Drunk on cigarettes

Last chance, say the words

Dancing in the dark

Love made in the park

Big white blossom tree

Baby cover me

Hold me, left to blow

Please don't let me go

Please don't let me go

“”

 

          THERE’S SO MUCH TO UNPACK HERE, I don’t know where to start.  This is the bridge of the song, sung in a breathless, whispery yell; most people I know who know the song aren’t even sure what she’s saying here, and sing along with every lyric right up to this verse and then awkwardly kind of go “da da da” when this part plays, then immediately start singing when the chorus comes back.  It’s one of those.

 

          Let’s start with “Last chance, say the words” by remembering all the time Carly has accused Her Love of Saying Something Without Speaking, and that being unfulfilling for her.  Look specifically at this lyric from the Keystone Song “Tell Me:”

 

          — Tell me, Last chance, Hold me in your arms and say, if you want this love to walk away —

 

          Quick Reminder: These songs were released nearly EIGHT YEARS APART, but certainly do seem to describe the same situation, one in which an initial rejection spiraled Carly out to some degree, causing her to beg Her Love to reconsider.

 

          And then, If that isn’t enough of a hat tip, here’s the lyric I had left out from “Black Heart” earlier:

 

          —Under the blossom tree, come a little closer won’t you come a little closer to me—

 

          The implication, paired with this song’s “love made in the park” is that there was a memorable sexual encounter under a blossom tree.

          You see them all over her hometown of Vancouver.  Cedars, Willows, Blossom trees.  All native to Canada. Blossom trees are all over.  I’m looking at one out the window right now.  They’re so strange looking; these pink, delicate things, like something from another world, so oddly fragile.

The Bad/Forbidden Love.  Two friends, kissing under a blossom tree in the summer as they crossed a line.

 

          One of them was in love.

          The other one wasn’t.