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Grammys 2013: Carly Rae Jepsen on moving beyond 'Call Me Maybe'

Carly Rae Jepsen's 'Call Me Maybe' was seemingly everywhere last year. Up for two Grammys, the singer talks about moving beyond that song.

February 08, 2013|By Gerrick D. Kennedy
  • Carly Rae Jepsen.
Carly Rae Jepsen. (John Shearer / Invision…)

Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe” was impossible to escape last summer. The sugary song, with its infectious chorus and bouncy dance-pop beat, shot to No. 1 and stayed there for nine weeks.

From “Sesame Street” to “Glee,” the song ruled the second half of 2012 and broke the 27-year-old Canadian singer internationally.

“Call Me Maybe” is up for two Grammys, including song of the year, a surprising feat given the Recording Academy’s reputation for ignoring youthful pop (case in point: Justin Bieber). Ahead of Sunday’s ceremony, The Times caught up with Jepsen, who was performing in Nagoya, Japan, to talk about that song and what comes next.

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Pop music typically is about that one big hit. Did you feel this was it as you were recording?

No … to be honest, and this might sound silly, but I was quite content with how things were going in Canada. I was shaping out a career there, and I was really excited because I’d had my first ever real record deal. I can remember we were choosing between “Call Me Maybe” and another song, “Curiosity.” The moment my aunt started dancing to “Call Me Maybe,” and she doesn’t really dance to anything, I realized maybe we had something.

When did you realize the song had become a thing?

I think it took me awhile. I began to see the online videos surface and it was becoming more and more of a daily thing. At this point it’s like James Franco and Justin Bieber putting up their own viral videos. And then Katy Perry did her own version of it and I got really excited.

Having a hit this massive must be a bit daunting, especially to try to follow it.

I think if I had felt like “Call Me Maybe” wasn’t a good representation of who I am as an artist it would have been very daunting. Luckily it’s right in the lane of the avenue of the type of music that I love. It is lighthearted and optimistic and slightly flirtatious, and it’s a song that today, still after singing it countless times, I’m still having a ball with because it doesn’t feel like mine anymore. It feels like the whole world gets to sing it with me and it’s a celebration. It is a stepping stone, though, and a nice way to say hello and introduce the album. And I’m looking forward to showing that I’ve got other sides to me as well, and getting that platform to showcase that.

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Often, when other singles don’t catch on, artists are perceived as a one-hit wonder. How do you find that platform so you’re not identified by this song?

Well, I think that’s one of the things that you have to look at a bit differently, at least I do. I can remember with “Call Me Maybe” and I had a goal for it to hit Top 10 on iTunes within Canada. The fact that it went to No. 1, and not just there but other countries and broke me into a worldwide artist is a dream come true. So I don’t look at this as any added pressure, I look at it as a great opportunity and obviously there’s that theme of wanting more … it’s a great challenge to be faced with and I’m looking forward to making my mark in other ways as well.

Back to the Grammys — voters historically have shied away from commercial pop hits. With a lot of talk about surprises and snubs, did you hear any of that type of criticism?

For me I’m looking at this as … it’s my Cinderella night that I’ve been dreaming of. I remember watching the Grammys with my family and being very judgmental over who wore what and getting excited about the speeches. It’s a fantasy that I’m going to be there. At the end of the day, what the Grammys decide is out of my control.

The most important question of them all: Have you picked out the outfit?

[Laughs] Now you’ve gone to the heart of the matter. I haven't. I literally can’t decide ... knowing me it’ll be a last-minute decision, I’ll have on one dress and change to the other. But its down to two.

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