I was aware of the smash success of Carly Rae Jepsen‘s “Call Me Maybe,” which conquered the international pop music world back in 2012, but I paid no attention to it (or her debut album Kiss). To be frank, I try to ignore whatever is playing on Top 40 radio, since that has become an almost entirely closed system where it’s increasingly difficult for good music to find its way in. But E·MO·TION, Jepsen’s sophomore album, received strong reviews and even placed ninth on AllMusic senior pop editor Stephen Thomas Erlewine’s year-end list. After listening to the record a number of times, I can understand why: it’s a solid pop album, delivered without pretension. There also is no trace of the sexual malice that has frequently crept into pop since hip-hop beats, rhythms, and culture started figuring into the mix a while back. Jepsen comes across as quite honest with her artistic intentions and seems like a quite likable person, wanting nothing more than to just craft good pop songs.
A quick scan of the credits reveals that an enormous kitchen busy with studio chefs was employed to accomplish this, but I suppose a blank check (or whatever the equivalent is these days, since records don’t sell much anymore) was in order after she delivered one of the bestselling songs in history — 18 million units sold — the last time around. The songs on E·MO·TION aren’t necessarily any more lyrically adventurous than “Call Me Maybe” — Jepsen is “tired of hearing about your boy problems” (“Boy Problems”) and she “really, really, really, really like[s] you” (“I Really Like You”) — but the music is compulsively listenable, that’s for sure. Somehow all the producers, songwriters, performers, programmers, engineers, and mixers have hit upon a winning formula, and at least half of the record is very good, with the best tracks (“Run Away with Me,” “Emotion,” “All That,” “Making the Most of the Night,” “Let’s Get Lost,” “Warm Blood”) ranking among the best of 2015.