Calling Carly: What happens to stars who have faded?


My friend Isaac, who attends the University of Illinois in Champaign, texted me last week saying he felt Carly Rae Jepsen deserves better and that we, as a society, failed her. When I asked him to elaborate upon his feelings he said, “I don’t know; I guess she has a lot of good bops on her new album.”

I wasn’t satisfied with Isaac’s response, so I took it upon myself to investigate his sentiments. I found Isaac wasn’t entirely wrong (partly because I didn’t even know Jepsen was even planning on releasing a new album this year).

The Mayans might have been right about 2012—metaphorically, at least, since 2012 was the year Jepsen’s global hit, “Call Me Maybe” aired on the radio, putting an end to the (destitute, depressing, empty) pre-”Call Me Maybe” world. The song received considerable media attention—even the former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell performed a brief rendition on “CBS This Morning.”

Unfortunately, Jepsen has yet to experience the same level of success on her most recent hits. For comparison, “Call Me Maybe” made 13 million sales globally and remained at the top of the Billboard 100 for nine weeks. Her most recent big hit was “Good Time,” a collaboration between Jepsen and Owl City in 2015 that climbed to No. 8 on Canada’s Hot 100.

In some regards, it seems as though Jepsen’s initial success with “Call Me Maybe” might have overshadowed the image she hoped to project as an artist. Perhaps this issue most directly addresses Isaac’s grievance against society’s treatment of Jepsen. Maybe what Isaac meant to articulate wasn’t that society has a vendetta against Jepsen, but rather that Jepsen was inadvertently pigeonholed into the image encompassing “Call Me Maybe.”

Try to conjure up an image of Carly Rae Jepsen in your head. What do you see? I see a girl with long, dark hair, blunt bangs that cover her eyebrows, light eyes and a youthful smile. If you look up a current picture of Jepsen on Google, however, you might be surprised to see the image is hardly the same.

She now wears her hair in a short, blond bob, and her eyebrows made their debut sometime between 2012 and 2019. Even her new bops sound much different than “Call Me Maybe.” My point is that, in the case of Jepsen (and perhaps even in the case of someone you know personally), we as a society may have a tendency to see others as unchanging, and we attribute who they used to be to who they are.

When Isaac said he felt Jepsen “deserves better,” I think he meant Jepsen deserves a second chance to project the image she originally had in mind before people started associating her exclusively with “Call Me Maybe.” Of course, that means we, the people, are tasked with listening to her new music and judging it independently of her past.

There are plenty of artists who have thrived given that second chance. Nick and Joe Jonas, for instance, have managed to successfully redefine themselves as independent artists. And let’s not forget Britney’s comeback after 2007. I don’t blame you if you don’t have the time to listen to Jepsen’s new releases. To be honest, I didn’t really have the time, either. I would ask, however, that if you do happen to hear one of Jepsen’s songs on the radio, that you consider how she may have evolved in the last seven years since coming into the limelight (she vapes now).