Carly Rae Jepsen’s leftover songs are killer. (Getty Images)
For an album that’s exceedingly bright, Carly Rae Jepsen’s “E•MO•TION” didn’t have as fun a time as it should have. It was undoubtedly a very strong album, but it barely yielded one Top 40 song as the album failed to take Jepsen back to the heights she had reached with “Call Me Maybe” off of 2012’s “Kiss.”
Still, those who sunk their teeth into the album swore by it, and for good reason. This album was crafted to be a modern-day pop masterpiece, as its producers and co-writers included modern-day hitmakers Sia, Ariel Rechtshaid (Adele, Vampire Weekend, HAIM, Calvin Harris), Shellback (Taylor Swift, Adele, Kesha, Maroon 5) Mattman & Robin (Taylor Swift, Tove Lo, Nick Jonas; they’re also the monsters responsible for “Cake By the Ocean”), Rostam and Dev Hynes. Simply looking at the album’s credits was enough to make a pop fan’s mouth water. Hell, Bieber was an executive producer.
The songs were great, if not too similar to one another. The album was clearly put together with an 80s sound in mind, an area where Rechtshaid in particular excels. Why the album wasn’t a major success may go down as one of modern pop’s great mysteries, but the thinking here from the beginning was that some truly great work was spent on an artist who wasn’t truly great, and that’s coming from a Carly Rae Jepsen fan.
Still, the album’s fate was unfair. Taylor Swift’s success (and that of so many before her) shows that you don’t need to be a powerhouse vocalist to be a star solo artist, and really “1989” wasn’t so much better than “EMOTION” that one deserved Album of the Year while the other failed to even get a single Grammy nomination.
On Friday, Jepson released “E•MO•TION: Side B,” a collection of eight songs that didn’t make the cut for the 12-song LP. The songs very much come from the same world as “E•MO•TION” (the 80s world), but interestingly enough, “Side B” might actually be a better pound-for-pound release than “E•MO•TION” itself. The leadoff track of the leftovers, “First Time” is perhaps one of the five best songs of the entire group of 20.
So, with “Side B” being received warmly (and it’s worth nothing “E•MO•TION” was also a critical darling), it’s worth exploring whether “E•MO•TION” could have been more successful had Interscope kept some of the songs it cut and lost some of the ones that made the album. Sticking with 12 songs (the number on the standard release), here’s one attempt at giving “E•MO•TION” a good ol’ fashioned redrafting:
1. Run Away With Me [E•MO•TION] – The rest of the album isn’t as adult as its leadoff shuffle, making this a standout track.
2. First Time [Side B] – And here we return to vintage Jepsen. Nothing beats good, unapologetically derivative pop. This song isn’t trying to reinvent the wheel, but rather make the wheel look damn good.
3. Higher [Side B] – A good enough song to overlook rhyming “best” with “rest.”
4. E•MO•TION [E•MO•TION] – Great chorus; would have been a much better choice as a single than the bland “Your Type,” which was released as a single but doesn’t make the cut here.
5. I Really Like You [E•MO•TION] – The only Top 40 song off “E•MO•TION” wasn’t close to her best work on the album, but it appeased the “Call Me Maybe” crowd to a degree.
6. The One [Side B] – Carly Rae Jepsen is nothing without flirty songs. This is one of them.
7. All That [E•MO•TION] – The best song of the 20 and one of Rechtshaid’s finest works. Just a terrific slow jam with a killer bridge.
8. Boy Problems [E•MO•TION] – Jepsen’s songs usually rely on massive choruses; here’s a rare instance where the verse and pre-chorus outshine the hook.
9. Cry [Side B] – The type of song Taylor Swift will hear and be furious she didn’t come up with it first.
10. When I Needed You [E•MO•TION] – Essentially a Sky Ferreira song, which is a great thing.
11. Warm Blood [E•MO•TION] – The most ambitious song of the group, and boy does it work.
12. Roses [Side B] – Now I seriously wish this is what the album was. “Roses” would have been a hell of a closer.