PART 7 -
TELL ME WHY
“Who is this for?” A close female friend asked, after reading everything you’ve read so far. “This thing is like- a hundred something pages long. Who, in your mind, reads all of this?”
I answered honestly:
I do not know.
“And what does it mean? What does any of it mean? Like, do you think Carly Rae Jepsen is crazy or a genius or what?”
I again answered honestly:
No, I don’t think she’s crazy. A genius, definitely. But crazy, I mean, probably not. I can’t even speak to if The Pattern itself is intentional, it’s just there. The sun is bright, water is wet, and Carly Rae Jepsen only sings about combinations of seven relatively specific themes and nothing else on every single one of her songs.
My friend sighed, nodded, but pressed onward: “Right, okay, but what if, let’s say Carly reads this, and just says ‘No, this isn’t right. I’m not doing this.’ Then you wrote all this for nothing, so like, what was the point?”
To that, I had a more complicated response: if Jepsen herself commented, ultimately, it could only affect part of what this is, and only barely.
If Carly Rae Jepsen handed me a sheet of paper with the word “DOG” written on it, and then in an interview said she’d given me a piece of paper that said “CAT,” the page in my hand wouldn’t suddenly say “CAT.” It would still just say D O G.
The Pattern is not deniable. It’s just there.
You can prove it with scientific method; choose a Jepsen song at random, and it will fit the rubric I’ve created. You really can’t do that with other popstars at her level, or even above it. You can’t even do that with the majority of mainstream-popular bands, or rappers, or authors, or playwrights, or even screenwriters, or actors, or entertainers of any kind, at least not ones that have more than ten samples to look at.
The overwhelming presence of the primary idea of Romantic Desperation, the seven themes, the sub-themes that repeat endlessly, even if Carly Rae Jepsen herself hand-waved them in an interview or a tweet, it wouldn’t matter, because they’re there in the text, they’re not extrapolations, and her beautifully literal lyrics don’t offer themselves up to varied interpretation.
A song like “I Know You Have Girlfriend” doesn’t lend itself to myriad philosophical interpretations; it’s about what it’s about. And as for the Narrative aspect, songs like Heavy Lifting, Emotion, Curiosity, This Kiss, Roses, Tell Me, Hotel Shampoos, Turn Me Up, Body Language, Fever, Almost Said It, Talk To Me, To Be Without You, Black Heart, amongst many, many, many others, really do seem to be describing a suspiciously similar type of doomed unstable unbalanced romantic relationship between friends, where Carly is the one who falls too hard and ends up on the losing end…
“Yes, but like what is the point of this? I understand that it’s real, it’s a real pattern,” My friend said to me, this acknowledgment of my Jepsession meant to buttress me from what was coming next, “But like…Do you want her to read it and like…Give you a prize? Be like, ‘oop, you caught me!’ Is this supposed to make her fall in love with you? Do you want to date Carly Rae Jepsen?”
The question confused the hell out of me. It was like someone had asked Michelangelo if he’d painted the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel because he wanted to “date God.”
Carly Rae Jepsen as a human being who I might bump into in Vancouver, who I had in fact met, very briefly, at one of those meet and greet things and seen perform live, felt completely separate from the ever-growing document on my laptop.
This project had become its own thing, occupying the same space in my mind I imagine is occupied by academic pursuits, or sports for other people, people who haven’t created a Spotify list titled “SONGS WHERE CARLY MENTIONS TREES.”
So, the question of “What is the end goal?” kind of threw me.
This engendered two bigger feelings in me: Firstly, I felt shocked that someone so close to me could think that I could possibly believe a massive, online partially autobiographical conspiracy-theory doctoral thesis about someone’s work would somehow make them feel anything but, at best, a little bit weird, and at worst…let’s not even get into that.
But the second feeling that flooded into me was more complicated, because I realized how little I knew about Jepsen herself, the human person.
In fact, when my friend posited this, I had an awkward moment where I realized I couldn’t even clearly picture what Carly Rae Jepsen looked like in my head.
She had…bangs? Right? Bangs? She had…she was…very…………..short?
Everything I was invested in, I was picking apart, it all came from the text, the lyrics, the songs, the measurable metrics. I’d purposely avoided going too much into the biography of the person, because that felt like it would lend to speculation, rather than hard, concrete research based on the block of information provided to me.
Which raised a stranger, more confounding issue: Was what I was doing wrong?
The patterns in Jepsen’s music were present for anyone to see, if they took the time to look. And no one had. I was the first one. Neil Armstrong. I did it, clap clap, good for me, or maybe like, scary for me, in terms of the implications about both my mental health and my use of spare time, but…
I hadn’t actually read a lot of “real” music criticism; literary explorations of themes and ideas across the work of artists. I also was not a doctoral student; I didn’t know how to cite things, to phrase them correctly, to speak in a truly scientific tone.
Despite my ambitions towards academic specificity, this was, ultimately, just a thing I was writing out of pure passion, so excited to be the Oppenheimer, the Madam Curie, the Magellan of Jepsen.
Internally, I had been comparing it to the massive investigations people write online about Lord of The Rings, or the themes of certain television shows like Game Of Thrones or X-Files, but when I stopped to think about it, my investigation of the narratives in Jepsen’s work were different because she’s a, you know, a…what’s the word.
Oh that’s right: a real person.
I was forced to confront the biggest unanswered question of all this, the one I didn’t really even want the answer to: Was the narrative aspect of the theory real?
Was the story about an unhappy, lost-feeling young singer songwriter girl who meets a depressed, unavailable older musician boy, falls for him, has short momentary fling, declares her love and asks him to run away with her, only to be rejected, demoted to “friends,” and left alone, endlessly wishing he still loved her…
…Was it true?
Did it reflect with any kind of verisimilitude an experience in the life of the singer-songwriter from Mission, British Columbia, Canada, a woman who a quick google search showed me was only three months younger than myself?
Was it a single true story, or an amalgam of true stories with similar outcomes, or maybe some kind of creative construction, or perhaps a consequence of the themes in question and the emotional situations she chose to sing about?
And if in the unlikely case it was a true story, was me talking about it in a public way somehow inappropriate? Was I, by uncovering this, dissecting it and then piecing it back together in a single comprehensive volume, violating some kind of sacred boundary between artist and audience?
And it raised a bigger question:
I found this thing. I categorized it, quantified it, dissected it and spent hours of my life arduously picking through it with tweezers and staring at my laptop screen, going lyric by lyric, piecing word by word together a masterpiece of tragic romantic longing.
Good for me. And good for you for sticking with me this whole time. But.
What does it mean?
I had to dig deeper. What did Carly’s early music sound like? What was her career BEFORE Canadian Idol, and Tug Of War? Did she have one?
Some research revealed yes, yes she did.
And the big surprise is: there are no surprises.