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The Scarlet & Black

Carly Rae Jepsen releases “Emotion Side B,” deep tracks you can dance to

Contributed Democratic senate candidate Patty Judge held a roundtable with college students in Des Moines to find out what changes students want to U.S. education policy.
Photo contributed.
Photo contributed.

By Hannah Boggess, Clare Nash & Anna Schierenbeck 

boggessh@grinnell,edu, &

The first time we listened to “Emotion Side B” was exactly as it should be listened to — ladies only road trip, windows down, speakers bumpin. The 8-track album is made up of songs recorded and cut from “Emotion’s” initial release in June of 2015. It’s unusual for a smaller artist (especially one widely considered a one-hit wonder) to release more songs from an album that wasn’t commercially successful, but Carly has inspired a cult following that turned out in droves to her world tour, and she released these tracks in response to fans’ enthusiasm. Don’t let the “B-list” misnomer scare you; they don’t feel like anyone’s second best. These songs are all certified bangers.

“Side B” fits right into the special place in our hearts where “Emotion” lives, snuggled in with Fergie’s “Fergalicious,” Beyoncé’s “Diva,” and Nicki Minaj’s “Super Bass.” Carly’s new album is Capital-R Relatable, with lyrics like “let’s be honest, no one else can take me there/but I don’t care,” “romance is fine/pour me some wine” and “I call you my lover/you call me your friend.” The 80s-inspired synth pop smoothly blends deep-cut confessionals with hype beats; each track allows you to dive into your feels while still giving you the chance to dance them away. “The One” reminds you of the time your casual hookup wanted to DTR. When the roles are reversed and you’re foiled while trying to put a ring on it, the next track, “Fever,” is perfect for crying in the shower. “First Time” opens “Side B” with a feel-good breakup jam, while “Higher” has the opposite effect; its Madonna-inspired pop vibes make us believe in love again.

If you’re reading this and still rolling your eyes at Carly from her “Call Me Maybe” days, here’s what we have to say: first of all, that song is great. Second of all, you’re not cool. You may not think of Carly as a Capital-A Artist, but that’s why we, and a lot of other people, (@2016 @pub quiz) love her. Carly isn’t trying to impress anyone or be the coolest girl in the room. And even though these are actually good songs*, that’s not the point. Dismissing her because you consider her fan base to be a bunch of teenage girls is just lazy. Sorry not sorry if these songs are too basic for you; the themes they touch on are meaningful and important, even if they feel clichéd. On the first listen, we cringed a little at lyrics like “all the roses in the garden fade to black,” but her vulnerability and candor throughout “Side B” make up for where Carly might be lacking in original lyricism. “Cry” feels like a diary entry in its intimacy and honesty, but it doesn’t romanticize tough problems in real relationships. Carly doesn’t need GWSS-111 to confront toxic masculinity. Her tracks are honest and approachable; we can picture her dishing up some goss with us over $3 wine from Hy-Vee.

“Side B” is the perfect soundtrack for an unironic and unapologetic girl group. We’ll listen to it while we do face masks and watch reality TV, but it’ll also be playing in the background when we’re cramming on Burling fourth. But being a basic bitch isn’t a prerequisite for loving “Side B.” You can jam to “Body Language” without sacrificing your imported cold brew and wire-framed glasses. “Side B” is for everyone because bangers are a universal language. Carly Rae Jepsen is inspiring and empowering and at times, even a Capital-A Artist. If nothing else, listen to this album to study up for Pub Quiz — and call us when you find yourself singing along.

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