Call Me Maybe
June 23rd, 2012
Todd plays "Call Me Maybe" on his piano
CARLY RAE JEPSEN - CALL ME MAYBE
A pop song review
Todd: Well, you wanted it, you got it.
- Video for "Call Me Maybe"
- Carly Rae Jepsen: I threw a wish in the well
- Don't ask me, I'll never tell
Todd (VO): Wow, did I get a lot of requests for this one. You people really want me to review [single cover] "Call Me Maybe" by Carly Rae Jepsen. I even got a message from my paymasters at [image of tweet from blip] blip.tv saying I should review this. Well, God, when even the people who sign my checks every month are telling me to review something, by God, I guess I'd better start. And I guess I should for all of you guys too, and I haven't gotten a flood of requests like this since [brief clip of...] "Whip My Hair".
But there was a major difference there. "Whip My Hair", I got a ton of requests for because everyone hated it; but "Call Me Maybe" appears to be...
Todd: ...a song you all like.
- Carly Rae: Hey, I just met you
Todd (VO): I seriously got all these requests saying, [images of two requests] "I really love 'Call Me Maybe', but I really want you to review it." Oh, okay. I guess that's just a sign of this song's incredible mass appeal. Carly Rae Jepsen's rise has been nothing short of astounding. [Clips of...] Here's Jimmy Fallon and the Roots performing it on Late Night, and here's Colin Powell performing it too.
- From CBS This Morning
- Colin Powell: Here's my number, so call me maybe
- Montage of various lip-syncs including Katy Perry and James Franco, as well as images of lyrics set against stills from Back to the Future and The Avengers
Todd (VO): Everyone loves this song. Right now it's even a popular meme on the Internet. Before I blinked, this song turned into the guilty pleasure of millions.
Todd: But not your good old uncle Todd, right?
Todd (VO): Surely Mr. Grumpy-Pants Pop-Hater over here can be counted on to give this song a good thrashing. I mean, why would he even be doing an episode on it unless he hated it, right?
Todd: [come on...] Right?
Todd (VO): Okay, before I say anything, you do know I have done reviews of stuff I like, right? I've done it a few times now. Also, I keep telling you guys I actually like pop music; no one ever seems to believe me. I wouldn't be doing this if I disliked everything. What about "Call Me Maybe"? Do I like that too?
Todd: Well...[maybe a little unsure, but...] no.
Todd (VO): No, I don't. I think it sucks a little. [Image of Gawker article: "Have You Heard 'Call Me Maybe,' the New Perfect Pop Song?"] And watching the whole world go nuts over such a completely unremarkable slice of stale cheese as this, is kind of pissing me off. I have absolutely no idea why the Internet is geeking out over this lame little coo-cooing, tee-heeing piece of oversugared preciousness. This song's just...not very good, and I hate to tell you this, but [images of memes over Back to the Future, Christians, and Alia Shawkat (Maeby from Arrested Development)] that meme? It's not funny. It's never been anywhere near remotely funny. Not even the Arrested Development one.
- Clip from "Tik Tok"
Now, "Tik Tok"—there was a meme-worthy song. She brushed her teeth with a bottle of Jack, remember that?
- Ke$ha: Brushed my teeth with a bottle of Jack
Todd (VO): That's something you build jokes off of, and the track popped and buzzed with excitement instead of these soft-ass fake strings. It was memorable, damn it! "Call Me Maybe" just isn't. Why is everyone, [Sound of the City page counting "The 17 Best Songs of 2012 (so far)"] even serious music critics, going crazy over some tweedy little tune that rhymes "maybe" with "baby"?! I expect so much better from you, Internet.
Todd: Yeah, call it a guilty unpleasure for me, I guess, because a big part of my reaction is mostly just [msnbc.com page: "Why you can't get 'Call Me Maybe' out of your head"] overexposure backlash, I realize that. On its own, "Call Me Maybe" is nowhere near the worst thing I've ever heard. But at the same time, let's be clear here. I took a dislike to this song pretty immediately, from the very first moment I heard it.
- Carly Rae: And now you're in my way
Todd (VO): Okay, let's see how we got to this point. Carly Rae Jepsen, of course, launched into popular consciousness after being featured on the super-influential, star-making powerhouse of television, [promo image of...] American Idol.
Todd: [double-checking notes] Sorry, Canadian Idol.
- Intro of Canadian Idol
Todd (VO): You know, funny thing about American Idol, despite its massive success, it doesn't have a very good track record of turning its [album cover of Taylor Hicks' The Distance] winners into success stories. But I tell you what, it's got a hell of a better record than its northern counterpart. Canadian Idol ran for six seasons in the 2000s where they, no joke, had themed episodes such as [pictures of...] "Barenaked Ladies Night" and "Gordon Lightfoot Night", which I hope is as funny to you as it is to me. Canadian Idol was probably a bad idea from the get-go. [Clip of American Idol group performance of "The Longest Time"] American Idol has, what, ten times the population to work with, and they can't even find one talented person some seasons. So it's not surprising Canadian Idol never made anyone famous, except for, like, this one guy.
- Clip of Hedley - "Perfect"
- Hedley: Falling a thousand feet per second, you still take me by surprise
Todd (VO): Yeesh, that's the best they could do? Hope he stays on his side of the border. [Clip of Carly on Idol] Carly Rae entered the show in Season 5, which thankfully for her sake, didn't have anything so hilarious as "Loverboy Night" or anything. Let's see how she did.
- Carly singing "Killer Queen" on Canadian Idol
- Carly Rae: She keeps Moet et Chandon
- In her pretty cabinet
- "Let them eat...
- Cut to Randy Jackson on American Idol
- Randy: Well, a couple problems with you. You had some pitchy spots here and there, you know what I mean? You lost the melody a little...
- Carly singing "Come to My Window"
- Carly Rae: Come to my window...
- Randy: It was definitely a little bit on the pitchy side.
Todd (VO): Yeah, I've gone through a bunch of her performances on the show, and I didn't see much to suggest she was the next big thing. She came in third and [clip of "Tug of War"] put out an album that didn't really catch anywhere, and for most cases, that's where it would end. But instead of being yet another reality show washout, her career got a huge boost when [clip of "Boyfriend" by...] fellow Canadian teen popper Justin Bieber [Rolling Stone article: "Justin Bieber Gives Singer Carly Rae Jepsen a Boost"] called her new song, "Call Me Maybe", his favorite song on Twitter. And from there, it spread until everyone was a fan. Except, of course, for me and my lonely little table of one because...
Todd: ...be damned if I'm gonna let Justin Bieber dictate my taste in music.
- Carly Rae: So call me maybe
Todd (VO): Okay, first off, she does not strike me as a great singer, certainly not in the technical American Idol sense; but she's not terrible either, and pop music is more about personality anyway. And...she's cute. Video's cute. Song's cute. It's all just so excruciatingly cute! Even her name's cute. Carly Rae Jepsen? C...Can't possibly be her real name. Look, she's even wearing pigtails here. Holy crap. Who actually does that? [Image of The Nostalgia Chick...wearing pigtails] Who?
Todd: I'm not trying to be harsh. As a wise man once said, "there's nothing wrong with trying to fill the world with silly love songs." But this one's a little sillier than most.
Todd (VO): Basically it's a song about meeting a guy. Not, you know, doing anything with him or dating him or holding hands with him or even having a conversation with him. She just gives him her number so that he can call her.
- Carly Rae: Hey, I just met you
- And this is crazy
- But here's my number
- So call me, maybe?
Todd (VO): Whoa, that is crazy.
Todd: [as a teenage girl] Oh my God, you guys, I met this cute boy and...oh my God, I never do this...I gave him my phone number. Oh my God, oh my God, this is so crazy, you guys, this is so bad... I'm going to hell.
Todd (VO): Look, this song is just not for me. I can access my teenage side, I can access my feminine side, but...I'm sorry, I can't...
Todd: ...do both at the same time. I can't find an entry into this because I can't find a way to relate to a teenage girl. Call me unsympathetic maybe.
- Carly Rae: Your stare was holdin'
- Ripped jeans, skin was showin'
Todd: [at it again] Oh my God, you guys, his jeans were ripped and I saw...[picture of...] his knees!
- Picture of boy reading, "Does your crush like you?"
Todd (VO): Now keep in mind, I'm well aware of the power of a good crush song. [Farm boy holding flowers behind his back] The thrill of anticipation is a very powerful emotion. In fact, it's probably [two girls in school] the only thing about romance this song's target audience knows anything about.
Todd: But "Call Me Maybe" just plays it so...coy and pussyfoots around everything.
- Carly Rae: I threw a wish in the well
- Don't ask me, I'll never tell
Todd: I'll never tell, tee-hee-hee. So let me tell you all about it.
- Carly Rae: I'd trade my soul for a wish
- Pennies and dimes for a kiss
- I wasn't looking for this
Todd: You weren't look...but you wished for it.
- Carly Rae: Hot night, wind was blowin'
Todd (VO): "Hot night, wind was blowing" before you came into my life. "I wasn't looking for this."
Todd: These are phrases used to describe a passionate whirlwind romance, not a scenario where basically nothing has happened yet.
Todd (VO): The video, which has Carly Rae reading a romance novel and failing to attract the attention of a guy, does a way better job of criticizing this song than I can, honestly, because it is a fantasy. It's a fantasy about having a fantasy of meeting some guy worth fantasizing about, some life-changingly hot guy who makes your knees weak with just his panty-melting stare. It's not a song for anyone who has any experience dating, it's not about actually doing anything except looking, really.
- Carly Rae: It's hard to look right
- At you baby
Todd (VO): He's so mind-bendingly, radiantly gorgeous, you can't even look directly at him...like [picture of...] the sun. [Clip from Twilight] I think Bella Swan describes Edward in exactly the same terms.
- Bella: You're beautiful
- Carly Rae: And all the other boys
- Try to chase me
Todd (VO): And as an added bonus fantasy, you're not only pretty enough that this guy seems interested, he's also the only guy of [clip from Daria] your many, many suitors worthy of your affections.
- Boy: You wanna go to a party with me?
- Clip of Taylor Swift - "You Belong With Me"
Todd (VO): I never much liked Taylor Swift's similar adolescent love stories, but at least she had the good sense to cast herself as the underdog. Then again, Carly Rae is smart enough to know that her songs are romance novels and not [clip of "Love Story"] classic literature.
- Taylor: 'cause you were Romeo - I was a scarlet letter
Todd (VO): Call that comparison a wash, I guess.
Todd: I don't like this song, but I really don't like what it represents.
Todd (VO): When I reviewed Gotye and fun. last month, I...optimistically suggested that they represented the beginning of a new trend in pop music, but maybe that was completely wrong. Maybe it wasn't the beginning of a new era, maybe it was the end of it. Maybe there was a brief window of time after club music began to recede at the end of 2010 where interesting, non-stupid music could seep through, and now that window is closing as the next big trend moves in.
Todd: And that trend is... [Album cover of Radio Disney Jams 11] teeny-boppery crap.
- Clip of Adele performing "Rumor Has It"
Todd (VO): I'm still hoping that we see more stuff like Adele and Gotye in the Top 10, but there's also a real chance that pop music will look like the cover of [cover of...] Tiger Beat for the next few years.
Todd: You know what? Before now, I didn't realize how adult pop music has been in the years I've reviewed it. Of course, I'm using "adult" in an extremely relative sense, but say what you want about club music, it does assume that you're old enough to get into the club. But now look where we are.
- Clips of One Direction - "What Makes You Beautiful" and Justin Bieber - "Boyfriend", and back to "Call Me Maybe"
Todd (VO): Boy bands are back, Justin Bieber finally has a real hit, and now our new teen princess here. Really, "Call Me Maybe" is pretty much the most screamingly innocent love song I've ever heard, which I suppose is all you can expect from a pigtailed high-school freshman naif like...
Todd: ...little miss sweet-16 Carly Rae here.
- Carly Rae Jepsen
- Age: 26
Todd can only groan with his head in his hands
Todd (VO): You know what? I should have known. If she was really a teenager, she would've named this song "Text Me Maybe." She's really 26. You're kidding.
Todd: I suppose it's an accomplishment for an adult to successfully sound like an eighth-grader trying to sound like a grownup. God, if this is what she sounds like now, what did the music from her first album sound like?
- Clip for "Bucket"
- Carly Rae: There's a hole in my bucket
- Dear Liza, Dear Liza
- There's a hole in my bucket
- Dear Liza, a hole
Todd can only shrug
Todd (VO): I didn't want to beat on this too hard, and "Call Me Maybe" the song isn't that bad. But "Call Me Maybe" the phenomenon definitely is. [Clip of...] Here's "Call Me Maybe" sung by a dog. [Article about...] Here's an article from a political journal where they used "Call Me Maybe" to explain the Euro Crisis. I don't get it. Why the widespread acceptance? Why did it spread everywhere so quickly?
Todd: At what point did the Internet start embracing such embarrassingly girly things as this?
- Clip from My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic
- Fluttershy: Ahh...[softly] Yay.
- [Rainbow Dash, annoyed, just sighs and faints in exasperation]
Todd: It all makes sense now.
Closing tag song: Garbage - "When I Grow Up"
"Call Me Maybe" is owned by 604 Records
This video is owned by me
Todd: [rushing back] Oh, hey, whoa. Oh crap, I forgot to mention. Yeah, speaking of Canada, I'm gonna be in Canada next month for [all info appears in text] ConBravo!, and that's gonna be from July 27th through July 29th at the Burlingtion Hotel and Coat Factory (actually Conference Center) in Burlington, Ontario. So, um...should be fun, I imagine. So...yeah, that's...that's where I'll be, stalkers. Cool? Cool.