Schoolboy / Interscope Records
Release Date: May 6th 2022
Reviewed by: Joshua Andre
- Western Wind
For virtually all of my life, I haven’t had the inkling to listen to pop music. Actually, I don’t think that the statement I just mentioned is true. Over the years I have listened to pop music… but it was always attached to something. It was always pop with another genre, or pop from a certain perspective. Not ‘straight up pop’. You see, Avril Lavigne was pop/rock, Amy Grant and Lauren Daigle both pop/CCM, Delta Goodrem was pop but from an Aussie perspective… and so the list goes on. Kelly Clarkson, Mandy Moore, Natalie Imbruglia, Vanessa Amorosi and Colbie Caillat are other ‘pop’ stars with another more vulnerable or rocky or edgy or reflective side to them, while Ed Sheeran- some version of pop- was a ‘thinking-man’s’ version of pop (pop with an intentional edge of writing deeper and more meaningful lyrics). Yes, indeed Backstreet Boys, One Direction and Westlife were all heavy pop in the sense that these were all boy-bands… yet none of them connected with me that much, and hence I was only a casual listener of their brand of pop. And of course, I listened to pop on Christian radio, but that was CCM- artists like MercyMe, Tenth Avenue North, Casting Crowns, Newsboys, Third Day, Big Daddy Weave, Sidewalk Prophets, Natalie Grant, Francesca Battistelli… you get the picture, right? And when you think about the pop on the radio right now… the mainstream pop music which said something superfluous and only spoke about drugs and sex and partying and having a good time… well I didn’t really want to touch that.
However, things were about to change with regard to me not listening heavily to ‘straight up pop’; as it was about a couple of years ago when I discovered Carly Rae Jepsen’s fun, bubbly, somewhat naïve sense of pop/dance music- and that brand of pop I instantly connected with. My brother Jon uploaded his blog about her as one of the most influential artists of all time– and though at the time I wasn’t entirely convinced at whether Carly really belonged in that list or not, I still powered on in reading the blog and watching the videos Jon embedded in the post. The result is me now loving Carly’s music, and becoming a fan! Sure, I’m definitely not part of her target demographic (as she sings predominately angsty love songs masqueraded as EDM pop jams perhaps 90% of the time or even more!), but there’s something powerful and dare I say it, spiritual, about Carly’s music and her lyrics and just the way she delivers them. In a world where artists like Miley Cyrus, Olivia Rodrigo, Ariana Grande, Katy Perry, Halsey, Lady Gaga, Harry Styles, Tate McRae, BTS, Lizzo, Bebe Rexha and The Jonas Brothers rule the radio and the pop stratosphere, with their overall lyrics and themes not entirely wholesome (and that’s why I try to steer clear from artists like these, as they aren’t that edifying for the soul!); Carly’s music is refreshing and revitalising- as we remember that a seemingly ‘one-hit wonder’ (“Call Me Maybe”) definitely isn’t so, and that if you are sleeping on Carly, you better wake up very, very soon. In my opinion, Carly’s pop songs are so catchy, and fun for the whole family to listen to, and I for one will recommend Carly to whoever I meet, simply because I believe that her music will resonate with many.
Since we blogged about Carly, we’ve reviewed her single “Me And The Boys In The Band” (released only as a music video) as well as Carly’s album Dedicated Side B. You can read these reviews at your own pace, and you can check out Carly’s history on the ever-reliable Wikipedia– or you could use Google. But what I will say is this. Carly doesn’t really reinvent the wheel genre-wise or lyric-wise. The subject matter and the musical structure of KISS (2012) is very similar to EMOTION (2015) and Dedicated (2019); and while you may believe that that is a sign of an artist being stagnant and not growing, I for one applaud Carly for sticking to what she knows best and what she is good at. Doing one thing and doing it well, is far more admirable than trying a lot of things and failing, or only doing them half-heartedly. And now, as we fast forward to now, Carly is back with her brand new single “Western Wind”- the lead single from her upcoming new album.
Let me just say this from the outset. “Western Wind” probably isn’t for anyone who loves Carly’s earlier music and thinks that this song is just a similar structure musically and lyrically as previous hit songs. Because… this melody is quite different. Melodically and sonically, this track is more ‘acoustic’ and laid back and breezy and mysterious and ethereal. It’s a song with the piano in the forefront, and though Carly sings in metaphors and imagery more and more on this track than on any other track; “Western Wind” lyrically at its core is quite similar to her previous work- it’s a love song where Carly sings to her partner against the backdrop of a second love song to California. “Western Wind” is a song with many layers- and if this is the direction Carly wants to take for her upcoming new album, then I’d say that this would be an interesting album to say the least!
Carly Rae Jepsen to me is one of the few finds that I never did expect, of this whole process of writing about influential artists, in my own opinion. I never knew that pop could sound so good before I listened to Carly’s music- and now that I have, I’m amazed at why she’s not as popular now than before during her “Call Me Maybe” days. While both Dedicated and Dedicated Side B are works of art within the musical genre of pop and EDM pop to be specific as Carly delves deep into the concept of love and how we as humans can sometimes make it more complicated than we need it to be; these two albums are perfect in the midst of COVID-19, as Carly engages, inspires and tugs at our emotions, reigniting our innate need to be closer to people and to ruminate upon the facets of love even if we do not yet have a partner. With these songs being very easy to dance to and being food for the soul as well; Carly’s reputation is bound to skyrocket with this new single of “Western Wind” … so what are you waiting for everyone? Check out both Dedicated and Dedicated Side B as well as the single “Western Wind”… and then re-listen to these albums again- they’re so, so, so good! Well done, Carly, I can’t wait to hear what’s in store next for you!
RIYL: Delta Goodrem, Kelly Clarkson, Dua Lipa, Selena Gomez, Julia Michaels, Halsey, Echosmith, Rachel Platten