CARLY RAE JEPSEN DEDICATED “SIDE B” REVIEW

There are not many artists making Pop music over the last 5 or so years that I can say I have liked as much as Carly Rae Jepsen. In my opinion, the only artists that are in her league as far as talent as music quality are Lady Gaga, Charli XCX, and Ariana Grande(Beyoncé and Rihanna are others that some would put in this group, but since they have both been making more R&B and Hip Hop over the last several years, I left them out. Don’t come at me, I know they are both great). It seems like lately that the Pop music landscape has been morphing a bit and incorporating a lot of elements from early to mid-80s New-Wave and Synth-Pop music; Dua Lipa’s Future Nostalgia, The Weeknd’s After Hours, and Charli XCX’s Charli and how i’m feeling now are some of the many examples of great artists using popular 80s sounds in their music lately. Carly Rae Jepsen has been making 80s-tinted Pop music for a very long time now. In fact, I can not remember a time when her music didn’t remind me a lot of artists like Stacey Q, Cyndi Lauper, and Duran Duran. Her Emotion album from 2015 literally sounds like it could have come out in 1984(I say this with so much love because the Pop music from this time was awesome). Carly has perfected this sound so much that I would argue she has definitely been an influence for the other Pop artists making music with a lot of 80s music influence these days. Similar to Emotion, Carly Rae Jepsen recorded a ton of songs for her 2019 album Dedicated(which was easily one of my favorite albums from 2019). Also similar to Emotion, Carly decided to release a whole new record of “B-sides” that didn’t make the original record since she made so much music during the album cycle that was so good. Emotion “Side B” actually might have been better than Emotion in my opinion; some of my favorite Carly songs to date come from this release. Obviously, because of the quality of Dedicated and Emotion “Side B,” I am very excited to listen to Carly Rae Jepsen’s Dedicated “Side B.” Carly Rae Jepsen has not released an album yet that I have disliked, so there’s no reason for anyone to believe this will be the case for her latest release. With that being said, this is how I feel about Carly Rae Jepsen’s new album Dedicated “Side B.” Let me know in the comments down below if you agree or disagree with this review, and let me know what your favorite songs are from Dedicated “Side B” down there as well!

That’s why we got to hold on, baby. We could believe that this love isn’t crazy. This loving could save me. This love isn’t crazy…

Unsurprisingly, Carly Rae Jepsen most definitely starts out Dedicated “Side B” one for one. ‘This Love Isn’t Crazy’ is as sweet and catchy as anything on the A-Side of this recorded, which is saying so much. The fact that this song is as much as an earworm and is just as fun as songs like ‘Party For One’ and ‘Want You in my Room’ shows how high its quality is. I can see myself singing the chorus to myself about once a day for months and months because it is just the perfect kind of cute pop chorus to get stuck in your head. Even though ‘This Love Isn’t Crazy’ is a really good song, in a way I can see why it was left off of Dedicated. This song actually reminds me of the songs of Emotion more than it does the ones on her last album. It has an EDM Dance-Pop vibe that is very similar to songs like ‘Cut To The Feeling’ and ‘Making the Most of the Night’ from Emotion. Dedicated does also have some EDM Dance-Pop elements to it, but this song just sounds like it would be on Emotion. Regardless, ‘This Love Isn’t Crazy’ is an excellent way to start this album. The next track, ‘Window,’ is pretty unlike anything that is on Carly’s last couple of records. It kind of seems like for this track she was just experimenting with a new sound for fun, because it really does not remind me of very much music I have heard from her up to this point. With that being said, ‘Window’ is a very good and very catchy song. On ‘Window’, Carly is singing wanting a particular guy to come back into her life that it did not work out with. Even though she knows that they probably will not be together forever, she still really cares about him and wants to give it another chance. It has a soft rock feeling to it that is very reminiscent of late 90s Adult Alternative music. Particularly, this song reminds me a lot of reggae-tinted rock bands from this time like Counting Crows and Ace of Base. I really love the funky groove that ‘Windows’ has. Similar to most of Carly’s music, the riff in this song is bound to get you bopping your head and moving your hips. Even when Carly is making slow and chill music, it is possible to not want to dance to her songs. Following this, we get ‘Felt This Way,’ which is another track that has a slower and way more chill feeling than most of her music has had in the past. Once again, it kind of seems like she was just trying something new for the sake of it. Unsurprisingly, she nailed it. ‘Felt This Way’ reminds me of some of the slower music from Ariana Grande’s last two records; I would guess that the R&B-tinted Synth-Pop that Ariana has excelled at in the last couple of years was a major inspiration for the sound of this song. It does also have an 80s Pop-Ballad feel to it as well; this song would sound perfect in one of those romance scenes in an iconic coming of age movies from the 80s. I really like the lyrical sentiment of this song as well. On ‘Felt This Way,’ Carly is singing about really wanting to leave someone that does not show the same amount of love and affection as she shows him, but for some reason, she can’t stay away from him. It really does stink to want someone who just does not want you back in the same way, and the emotions this causes are expressed very well in this song. ‘Stay Away’ away is the first song so far that actually sounds like it could have been on the tracklist for the Side-A version of Dedicated. It has a similar warm Pop-Rock feeling that is very similar to a lot of songs from Dedicated, and I bet it was once of the final cuts from that record. This is another song with a really fun riff that will just make you want to dance. It is amazing how catchy all of Carly’s songs are. ‘Stay Away’ actually literally seems like it has the exact same lyrical meaning of the last song. It has a very similar sentiment to ‘Felt This Way;’ on this track Carly is singing about knowing someone is not good for her, but not being able to say no to and keep away from this person. It is interesting that Carly tried to write a song with this thought in mind twice, and both of them got struck from the original record, especially since both songs are very good.

‘This Is What They Say’ is another song where Carly departs a bit from the sounds that she is known for. I could sort of see this song being on Dedicated, because it does have a somewhat similar tempo and melody style to the music on that record, but it would have stuck out for sure. ‘This Is What They Say’ is decidedly funkier than most of the music that Carly is known for; it actually sounds like it would have fit in very well on Dua Lipa’s album Future Nostalgia. I bet that another influence for this song was Katy Perry; it feels like it would fit in very well in the late 2000s and early 2010s Pop music era. On “This Is What They Say,’ Carly is boasting about how good her affection and love towards her significant other must feel. She knows that she is very good and making someone feel well, and she wants the man she is with to admit how great he has it. The next song, ‘Heartbeat,’ reminds me a lot of ‘Felt This Way.’ It is another slow and sweet Pop ballad of which I am not used to hearing from her. This is another song that reminds me of the sweet and sappy love songs that would play during romance scenes from old coming of age movies. This track has a bit more of an R&B feeling to it than most of her music in the past; in a way, this song kind of reminds me of the slow and funky music made by artists like Lionel Richie and The Bee Gees in the 80s. I like how the tempo of this song contrasts with the lyrical tone that it has. Over a calm and soft instrumental, Carly is singing about how her feelings for this guy are making her heart flutter; he is giving her butterflies which is making her heart beat faster and faster. This is a feeling that everyone can relate to; it is awesome how Carly Rae Jepsen writes such relatable Pop music. ‘Summer Love’ is another song that actually does feel like a true B-Side for Dedicated. It has a riff that is pretty similar to a lot of the songs from the A-Side of the record, and it has a similar Dance-Pop groove that will just get you to move your feel. I can see in a way why this once was left off because while it is good, it does not really have the same quality as the music from this record. That being said, ‘Summer Love’ is still a very good song, and it is especially a perfect song to get into considering the time of year we are in. ‘Summer Love’ is about exactly what you think it is about. On this song, Carly is singing of a fun and carefree fling she had with someone over the summer. She knew it would never get serious with this person, but she did have a lovely few months with them. Following this, we get ‘Fake Mona Lisa,’ which is another song that sort of feels like it could have been on Carly Rae Jepsen’s album Emotion. This song has a really warm and sweet Synth-Pop groove that is so fun and so danceable. I would really love to hear this song in a bar or club when things open back up because I bet the dance floor would get rocking to this song if it came on. ‘Fake Mona Lisa’ is another song that is about a casual relationship where Carly is having a lot of fun in the short term with this person but knows it would never world out over a long period of time. Carly knows that the facade this person is putting up is not real, but she does not care because at the moment she feels so good. ‘Fake Mona Lisa’ is such a cute and fun song, and it is definitely one of my favorite songs from this record.

‘Let’s Sort This Whole Thing Out’ is a very typical song for Carly sonically and lyrically. If I were to imagine what a radio single from Carly Rae Jepsen was supposed to be like, it would end up being something pretty close to this song. I almost guarantee that if it were actually put on Dedicated, ‘Let’s Sort This Whole Thing Out’ would have been a single because it just feels so much like a lot of her singles in the past. I love the really fun and sweet melody that sounds like it is being provided by bells or chimes; it is yet another groove that will make anyone want to dance. On ‘Let’s Sort This Whole Thing Out,’ Carly is basically telling her ex to make the move. She knows that he still likes her, and she knows that she still wants him, and she does not want to wait for him anymore. ‘Comeback’ is the only song that has a feature from this record; it is assisted by Bleachers, which is the band of one of Carly’s favorite producers, Jack Antonoff. ‘Comeback’ has an early 2000s feeling to it that reminds me a lot of artists like Jewel and Christina Aguilera. I think that the feature from Bleachers adds a bunch to the song, as the harmonies provided actually help portray the emotions that Carly is feeling. Once again, ‘Comeback’ is a song that sounds like a different version of the previous track. Carly is singing about wanting her ex to come back into her life so he can give him another chance. I know that Carly has stated that she is an over-writer, but it is interesting that there are two sets of tracks with the same meaning that did not end up making the original album. I would like to know why this is the case because they are actually all very good songs! Speaking of wondering why certain songs from this B-Side record were left off of Dedicated, I am baffled as to why ‘Solo’ was one of those songs. This song is definitely one of my favorites from this record; I would even say that I like this song as much or more than any of my favorite songs on Dedicated. I really love the 80s Synth-Pop feeling that this song has; the chorus reminds me so much of artists like Steve Wynnwood and Electric Light Orchestra, and it is extremely fun and catchy. If you are a fan of songs like ‘Higher Love’ or ‘Mr. Blue Sky,’ you will most definitely enjoy this song. ‘Solo’ covers a topic and expresses emotions that are similar to Carly’s single from Dedicated ‘Party For One.’ On this song, Carly Rae Jepsen is embracing being single and learning to love herself when she is on her own. I love the message of this track because this is a sentiment that we all need to learn and a situation we all need to be okay with. The record ends with another track that is is an experiment with a different sound for Carly. ‘Now I Don’t Hate California After All’ sounds a lot like some of the weird Pop music that was being made in the 90s. Particularly, I can hear a lot of Mariah Carey’s influence in this song. I appreciate the fact that Carly is trying some new sounds on this record. This track is about Carly realizing that she is starting to love California. In the past, she has stated that she does not enjoy the superficial nature of that state, but I guess the great weather and beautiful people have won her over. I am sure we would all move to California for the weather and chill nature of the state if it was logistically possible, so I don’t blame Carly for feeling this way at all.

Over the last several years, there have not been many people making Pop music(or making any kind of music in general) whose output has been as consistently great as Carly Rae Jepsen’s. Ever since she emerged in the early 2010s, Carly Rae Jepsen has just churned out great music. Her output has been so stellar that Dedicated “Side B” was not even the first album of B-Sides Carly has released that has been excellent; in 2016, she released an EP of extra songs from her record Emotion which also received critical acclaim. The thing I enjoy the most about this record is the fact that Carly kind of went outside her element and pushed her own boundaries a bit on this release. In the grand scheme of things for music, I would not say there is anything very game-changing or unique on this record, but for Carly, there are a bunch of very good songs made in a style we are not used to hearing from her. Dedicated “Side B” is an awesome collection of Pop tracks by an awesome Pop artist who never disappoints. If you are looking for some new lighthearted music to dance around your room in these troubling times, this is an album you need to listen to.

Favorite tracks: This Love Isn’t Crazy, Stay Away, Summer Love, Fake Mona Lisa, Let’s Sort This Whole Thing Out, Solo, Comeback

8.0/10

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