Carly Rae doesn’t have a vid yet, but there’s always Faith…
Patrick St. Michel: “Maybe” was the key word in Carly Rae Jepsen’s breakthrough single. Despite throwing wishes in wells and seeming focused on the object of her affection, that “maybe” served to soften the gooey emotions of the song, the sort of pretend indifference that sounds like it came from a dating manual. “This Kiss” once again finds Jepsen covering up her true intentions, this time with spontaneity instead of feigned disinterest. Over Redfoo’s glossy production (which… where did this come from?), she coos about how she “can’t resist” this kiss even though she feels guilty about it, as both this dude and she already have significant others… except she contradicts herself when she sings that those are “details we forgot to mention.” This isn’t some stroke-of-luck encounter; the verses paint Jepsen’s character as having planned this for a while now, to the point this borders on stalking (or investigative use of Facebook). She wants the big moment to feel of-the-moment — they are dancing next to one another! — but she’s setting everything up for that “moment” to happen, and they move towards one another after all. Here’s a pop jam for people who roll their eyes at “YOLO,” but wish they had the nerve to be more forthcoming about what they want.
Alfred Soto: Jepsen doesn’t sell this tinselly treat, aware that it’s insistent enough to sell itself. At least as good as “Call Me Maybe” but you won’t catch this one entering the zeitgeist.
Will Adams: Things are looking dire for the “one-hit wonder” faction. With a smoothie sweet track (a mind-boggling amount of restraint from co-producer Redfoo) and a “Call Your Girlfriend” scenario, Carly Rae follows up on the swooning crush that “Call Me Maybe” was too sheepish to let venture past the front lawn. Now we’re on the dancefloor, and the threat to monogamy is swiftly undercut by an endearing solidarity – “I’m dancing the way you are/And you’re dancing the way I am” – and the cheesy vocal distortions. The excitement is in the promise of her finally getting that kiss after the song’s end.
Iain Forrester: It’s pleasing that it belatedly turns out that Carly Rae Jepsen has a shot at more than just one singularly great hit. Okay, the one hit wonder question has already technically been pushed aside by “Good Time,” but that’s all the more reason to wish “This Kiss” well in establishing her in her own right. Its retro synth hits are a bit over-eager but they give enough space for Jepsen to make a lot out of all of the details — starting with the way she sings “details” like a mischievous handwave and building to the fevered chorus. As a document of overpowering emotion that manages to convince and be playful at the same time, “This Kiss” is very good.
Anthony Easton: The chorus is tight and catchy — like, Ebola catchy. This hits the sweet spot between Perry and Swift, with a little Justin Bieber (the Bieber that is convinced of his own genius). Plus, it’s nice to have a song about having sex with someone who one shouldn’t have sex with that sounds so much like pure pleasure.
Brad Shoup: I’m not buying the vacillation at all, so maybe that’s the point: there are things one is supposed to say (to your friends, to yourself) when you’re in a relationship or thunderstruck on just the physical level. The pause in “I’ve got a boy… somewhere” and the squeals Jepsen injects into “dancing” are the keys here. Redfoo’s sonic suggestiveness starts and ends at the drum pistons; he’s more interested in the deception of toothless retro.
Alex Ostroff: The production on “This Kiss” is overbearing compared to the rest of Kiss, but “Call Me Maybe“ was underwritten and that didn’t stop CRJ from turning it into pop gold. Carly’s voice is deft and light enough to keep “This Kiss” from Katy Perry territory, despite the increase in thumpa-thumpa for radio-friendliness. No matter what she maintains, though, I don’t feel the tension; her protests are perfunctory at best. This is in-the-moment rationalization, mind racing and already figuring out how to best explain it away. “Details we both forgot to mention,” is too deliberate to truly be an afterthought, you know? The entire monologue is as carefully constructed as the parallels between lips undeniable and heart unreliable that pull Carly from resist to risk.
Katherine St Asaph: Carly Rae Jepsen has the daunting task of appealing both to Bieber-fevered preteens and those who, like her, are twice their age. But by George, she’s done it; Kiss is both thoroughly tween and replete with touches that’ll bring anyone who internalized pop through The Immaculate Collection to glee – here, it’s the backing-vocal echoes, the chimes in the prechorus and that particular dip Carly’s voice does on “sentimenta-al.” She did say Madonna was an influence, though, and she also cited Robyn, which explains why this is “Call Your Girlfriend” if nobody bothered to call or ask. The story’s the same, and so is the sound — the bridge’s “Ishouldn’tIcouldn’tIshouldntcouldn’tshouldacouldashouldcould…” is precisely how this particular impassioned and doomed risk-reward analysis goes, acted out precisely by Carly’s hurried, engineered-stammer vocals and one glorious closing synth that’s like lips finally meeting. They’re sonic trends, but they’re deployed with purpose, the same way Robyn’s chorus soared with persuasion — and for the matter, the same way the strings in “Call Me Maybe” fluttered like a crush frisson. I couldn’t, shouldn’t love this. It’s even more brazen about cheating than “Call Your Girlfriend,” it’s produced by Redfoo, and – let’s just get to the crux — my life lately is an exercise in resembling Carly Rae Jepsen’s songworld as little as possible. But I can’t resist.
Andy Hutchins: Someone threw the best parts of the ’80s, ’90s, and ’00s in a blender and came up with a song that is inferior to “Call Me Maybe” in that is not “Call Me Maybe” but little else. I hope we are stuck with Carly Rae 4eva.