Tuesday, June 6th, 2017

Carly Rae Jepsen – Cut to the Feeling

Take us to the “Feeling”…


[Video]
[7.40]

Will Adams: For a year whose first half has been dire in terms of its pop music — between Katy Perry’s hamfisted attempts at swagger and seriousness, Ed Sheeran’s turgid reduction of R&B, the One Direction boys flailing about, everything else blurring into one dreary headache — “Cut to the Feeling” feels practically beamed from the heavens. It wastes no time cutting to its own feeling, a starburst chorus of unabashed emotion and confetti. It’s quintessentially Carly, and it’s a breath of fresh air.
[9]

Ryo Miyauchi: My, what a classic Carly Rae Jepsen chorus: hitting with the boom of a jet engine, it’s the indestructible space where she can confess it all, even if she ends up sounding like she wants a little too much. Now only if everything leading to it gambled with the same risk.
[6]

Alfred Soto: “I wanna wake up with you all in tangles, oh!” is a pop lyric for our times, worthy of a caffeinated chorus into which Carly Rae Jepsen pours a half decade’s worth of lived euphoria — after all, isn’t “cut to the feeling” the Jepsen ethos? The verse melodies didn’t grab my ear, though, and after a couple listens “Cut to the Feeling” sounds closer to a b-side than “Cry” did.
[6]

Tim de Reuse: Exuberant, glossy, candy-sweet, a pleasantly meaty arrangement, and a subtly pop-savvy hook; yeah, it’s CRJ again, but a cumulative hour and a half of Emotion-related material in recent memory forces a comparison, and this isn’t nearly as exciting. Sound design compromises were made to fit this tune seamlessly onto the soundtrack of a summer blockbuster, I imagine; it’s not bad within the constraint that the end result sound like ten thousand other things that have come out in the last five years, but I don’t know if it would have caught my attention with anyone else’s name on it.
[6]

Alex Clifton: We all know Carly Rae Jepsen is truly #queenofeverything, and this comeback single proves it. Soundtrack songs can be hit or miss (see “Love Me Like You Do,” the dreariest thing Goulding’s ever done, vs. the effervescent “Can’t Stop the Feeling!”) but this transcends both of those. I’m glad that this was left off Emotion, as I’m not sure it would’ve fit in with that particular set of songs, but this is a hell of a B-side that she saved for us. When she screams “I wanna cut to the feeling!” and her voice breaks, I’m filled with vicious joy and I want to shout it with her — which is all I can ever ask for pop music. I’m left breathless and needing more. As 2017 gets increasingly darker, I thank the gods every day for Carly Rae Jepsen.
[9]

Anaïs Escobar Mathers: Humans don’t deserve dogs or this planet, and we definitely don’t deserve Carly Rae Jepsen, but we have them so let’s be grateful. Synthpop summer vibes at their best, and was that a little sample of “Lucky Star” in the intro? Carly Rae Jepsen is audio Zoloft.
[10]

Thomas Inskeep: The world is going to shit; every single day brings awful headlines, starting from but not limited to the White House. Things can sometimes feel hopeless. But then Carly Rae Jepsen, the true current queen of pop, surprise-releases 3:26 of pure fucking sunshine. And for those three-and-a-half minutes, things aren’t as bad, and might even feel good. “Cut to the Feeling” shimmers with the same ebullience that made Emotion such a perfect pop album from start to finish. This is a car-windows-down summertime singalong, full of joy and light and energy and love. This is exactly what we need from pop right now. This is pure happiness.
[10]

Anthony Easton: The production is a giant steam roller, handclaps and kick drums obliterating anything else in the track. It’s a good thing that her voice has been so nondescript anyway. It also destroys any sense of eros and any ambivalence. I would like this more if she owned her ambition. An obligation towards joy is as grating as an obligation towards melancholy. Lastly, how do you cut to a feeling when this completely refuses anything human, and doesn’t even do anything interesting with the possibility of a production so robotic it could be inhumane?
[2]

Joshua Minsoo Kim: As someone whose patience is easily tested by the early, formative stages of a relationship (romantic or otherwise), “Cut To The Feeling” seems terrifyingly unhealthy. It relentlessly provides the sort of delirious joy that I would be content to soak in, completely ignoring the wellspring of “authentic” emotional experience available from repeated interactions with actual people. I often ask myself: can any lived experience truly compete with the stuff I’m feeling from X or Y piece of art? And if so, why even invest in all that energy when a 3 minute pop song comes close enough? The thing is, Carly Rae Jepsen doesn’t make music that allows you to be satisfied with what it offers on a strictly musical level. Because in the act of putting ineffable emotions to song, she paints them as the irresistible high they are, and it overflows into an encouragement for you to pursue them yourself. It’s no different on “Cut To The Feeling,” and Carly has everything here down to a science. I took a look at the numbers, and that chorus really does hit early. Of the 26 officially released songs from the Emotion sessions, “Feeling” gets there the fastest. It’s also one of only five tracks to contain a four-bar pre-chorus. Coupled with those pounding drums, the anticipation you have suddenly tumbles into the chorus’ contagious energy. It took me by surprise on first listen, and the best thing I can say about the transition is that it feels like a natural representation of unforced euphoria. And Carly’s a killer pop star because she knows how to transfer that experience with complete, relatable authenticity. “Cut To The Feeling” is a song about finding the value in a certain end goal and making conscious steps to reach it. That this song makes me want to do just that in my own life is a blessing, and for Carly I am grateful.
[10]

Katherine St Asaph: The natural endpoint of Emotion‘s maximalism: an intro of “Lucky Star” and Cinderella glitter, a metaphor as evocative of cinema as slicing through bone, a chorus that sends Carly’s voice into overdrive and pastiches about three different A*Teens songs. It’s almost enough to make you ignore the fact that she forgot to write a pre-chorus.
[6]

Jonathan Bradley: She wants to get straight to the good bit, and that goes double for the composition: “Cut to the Feeling” procrastinates through its verses. Jepsen is in these moments not an overwhelming melodic and emotional force; she hangs back as the track centers on its heart-thump boom of a kick drum, sidelined from her own tune. The good bit though; oh my gosh, it’s good. As with “I Really Like You,” Jepsen wants to go too far too fast, but she was bashful there, and here she charges into her desire. Smashes of synth and guitar launch her “I wanna…” out of daydream and into the literal: cut, and now she is dancing on the roof, now she is waking up intertwined with you, now she is playing where angels play.
[8]

Edward Okulicz: Somewhere in my DNA there must be a mutation that makes me immune to Carly Rae Jepsen songs that by all rights should send me into fits of high rapture. I hear the delicious ingredients — an irresistible beat for fist-pumping or banging on the dashboard, a clever nick from the intro to “Lucky Star,” and a plenty-vibrant vocal performance — and some of the lyrics are tingly and evocative. But those verses are spinning their wheels instead of doing tricks over the terrain, the pre-chorus “aaah”s must be placeholders and the chorus is a fine description of euphoria, but I don’t feel that euphoria.
[6]

Maxwell Cavaseno: Liking Carly Rae Jepsen is an ugly business. The songs are never that bad, they’re usually very pretty and still maintain an earnestness that everyone loves. But with her continued edging around the traditions of linear career momentum (I think doing a Broadway Cinderella musical was honestly more appreciable in my mind than her being a critical darling headlining music festivals but not actually doing fuck all as far as radio airplay) the divisions among who “THE REAL CRJ FANS” are is getting a bit strenuous. “Cut to the Feeling” having a hint of controversy because it makes people argue this “Kiss vs. Emotion” debate is shocking because yes, it’s an okay Carly Rae cut (which let’s be honest, that’s all the B-Sides record so many of us appreciated really contained, and there’s a lot more of those than we like to pretend). But the biggest irony is that Jepsen is sampling Madonna… by this point in her career Madonna was making True Blue. If you ask the real world, the world outside people who become super passionate about the songs the big bad world doesn’t touch? She’s barely Debbie G.
[6]

Stephen Eisermann: I’ve spent a lot of time wondering what everybody’s fascination with Carly Rae Jepsen stems from. After spending more time with her last LP than I ever cared to, I was left just as dumbfounded as the first time I spun it. With this song, I think I finally get it. I don’t agree with it, but I get it. What I said about J Hus applies here: Carly fucking commits. It’s so hard not to be infected by her happiness and infatuation during the first verse, similar to how it’s hard not to want to dance while listening to “I Wanna Dance With Somebody.” Unfortunately, though, the infatuation this song infects me with is short lived, because the strain on her voice in the higher parts of the chorus sober me up real quick. Imagine crushing hard on someone for, like, a week and making up pet names and stuff only to realize the crush is a good friend of your ex. It’s all heart eyes and winky faces until it’s not, and this is definitely not.
[3]

Ian Mathers: This is great, but I guess where I’m at is I just don’t get the people who think its quality means it’s weird that beloved national treasure Jepsen isn’t a bigger star. Far as I can tell highest this has charted is #68 (in Scotland!), and it feels to me like it’s a great example of some modern, non-rock based equivalent to power pop — absolutely beloved by its fans and well regarded critically, and failing utterly to get wider traction for reasons that baffle us but will never change. I’d be thrilled to be wrong, but our girl feels distinctly subcultural at this point.
[8]

Eleanor Graham: CRJ’s lyrical genius stems from her respect for the nameless. It reminds me of Vita Sackville-West to Virginia Woolf: I just miss you, in a quite simple desperate human way. You, with all your un-dumb letters, would never write so elementary a phrase as that; perhaps you wouldn’t even feel it. And yet I believe you’ll be sensible of a little gap. But you’d clothe it in so exquisite a phrase that it would lose a little of its reality.” That elementary, naked phrase, “cut to the feeling,” does exactly what is stated. Like “take me to the feeling” and “all that we could do with this emotion” before it, the line captures the very essence of the thing without caring to elaborate. And loses nothing of its reality. What a gift.
[8]

Juana Giaimo: What makes the songs of Emotion so especial is, as Andrew Ryce put it in 2015, that each of them “takes a different feeling and makes it seem like the most important thing in the world.” “Cut to the Feeling” also fits this idea, since it’s from the same era. This is the time to scream out loud your shameless devotion to your emotions, or as the lyrics say, “I want it all or nothing; no more in-between.” The only purpose of the verses’ tension is to serve the explosion of the chorus. There is a sense of urgency that saturates the whole song — there is no time for subtle flirting — that is joined by a certain dreaminess, resulting in a song that is looking to go beyond reality — because isn’t finding the one you want beyond reality too?
[8]

William John: I’m not entirely sure when it was that my cynical attitude as to whether we needed yet another treatise on ebullience from Carly Rae Jepsen dissipated — either at the moment the first chorus of “Cut To The Feeling” hits, not so much with any conventional lead-in or slow build, but as though a freight train has arrived early, or upon hearing the somersaulting “whoops” peppered throughout the choruses, serving as metonymy for the overarching sheer delight. Either way, by the end of the song my doubts had been long washed away by Jepsen’s wide-eyed elation. If anything, I’d been convinced that too much sincere effervescence is never enough.
[8]

Lauren Gilbert: I write this blurb after checking the news: another attack, another death, another headline blaming innocents. At this point, I don’t feel outrage so much as exhaustion; I am old, and tired, and perhaps this is just the world we live in now; this is reality. And then there’s the spin-up of the intro, the drums kicking in, Carly’s exuberance infectious. It makes me feel like I’m 17, but not the 17 year-old I actually was (stressed, rushing to class, afraid I wouldn’t Make It, whatever making it meant); some idealized 17 where dreams really do come true. It’s a rush of joy, the feeling of flooring it on the 5, of your life and your future opening up before you. It’s the aural equivalent of the feeling of the sun on my face and the thin blue line of the Pacific in the corner of my vision. This is Jepsen’s greatest strength as an artist: conveying emotions in bright colors, all in on life.
[9]

Will Rivitz: You know the “Band Geeks” episode of Spongebob? Where, after enduring about nine minutes and thirty seconds of aggression and humiliation from his nemesis Squilliam, Squidward enjoys a massive rush of schadenfreude as his motley band of Bikini Bottom ne’er-do-wells pulls off a glorious ’80s power ballad to conclude the episode? “Cut To The Feeling” is “Sweet Victory” minus the comeuppance. It’s the audio equivalent of powersliding to the front of the stage as a bitchin’ guitar solo mirrors every motion of your exultation, except instead of guitars it’s synths as big and bright as the sun. This is Jem and the Holograms, this is a Sailor Moon transformation sequence. It’s “Run Away With Me” but completely different, except the point of both is exactly the same. Carly Rae is a savant with respect to many parts of pop, but perhaps her most satisfying trick is her ability to kickstart the most vivid sprints through euphoria I’ve ever heard. “Cut To The Feeling” is the perfect name for this song; I’ve rarely felt The Feeling so immediately and tangibly present.
[10]

Reader average: [8.05] (20 votes)

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9 Responses to “Carly Rae Jepsen – Cut to the Feeling”

  1. So into this controversy (or at least, as much of a controversy as you’d expect on a CRJ song). The low(er) rating blurbs are where it’s at though, especially Stephen’s.

  2. Eleanor, you captured everything I was trying (and failing) to express about this song; what a great blurb.

  3. Hi Eleanor and Alex! What a great post to make a first appearance on

  4. it’s a cute song and all, but let’s move on from emotion, carly

  5. To move on from it, you would have to land on it first.

  6. woah Eleanor’s blurb is so good

  7. I knew this would happen! Someone help me like this girl as much as everyone else!

  8. Thank you Lauren and Claire!!!! Iain, hi, yes I could not be happier to be making my blurb debut on a CRJ song

  9. This would be a strong [7] from me, but I already got all my thoughts out on GNJ (and obviously everyone here had it handled! (also welcome to all the new writers!))

    Anyway seeing this score in our top 10 for the year so far – in spite of controversy and with a lot of qualified praise – makes me truly dread the inevitable backlash that’s been threatening to land for a while now!

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