It's hard to remember life before Prince Bieber introduced the world to his inexplicably perky Canadian protege, Carly Rae Jepsen and her monstrously infectious earworm, "Call Me Maybe." Of course, you're now more than familiar with the little ditty about Carly slippin' a guy her number and suggesting that perhaps he give her a ring, maybe, but a mere six months ago, CRJ was just another third-place finalist on Canadian Idol. Cut to May 2012, and you can't walk a damn foot in this city, and I'd imagine anywhere else where there is a radio or the Internet, without hearing this song, or at least a rendition by a group of middle school girls on their way home from school or wasted bros and hoes stumbling down Ludlow Street at 3 a.m. So, because this track is now clearly the cultural touchstone of our generation, or at least our collective anthem for summer 2012, I thought I'd take everyone on a little journey through what I like to call "The 5 Stages of 'Call Me Maybe.'"
Stage 1: "Wait... Is This a Taylor Swift Remix?"
When you first met "Call Me Maybe," you wondered if Taylor Swift had finally given up the country schtick and was making a foray into the dance pop remix scene. Swift was now, after all, old enough to enter a nightclub and at first glance, the "dear diary" lyrical content of Jepson's tune was awfully close to "You Belong With Me" with banjos swapped for drum programming. But no, you slowly realized, this was not Taylor Swift, even though her doe-eyed naivety was just as endearing/grating. It was something called "Carly Rae Jepsen" and it came to us from Canada! "Hey, you know what? This song is actually pretty darn catchy! And I'm glad the kids have something wholesome to listen to on the bus ride home from sixth grade!" you thought, with a heartwarming smile.
Stage 2: "Hey, I Just Met This Song, and It's Stuck in my Cranium Like Crazy, But If I Don't Stop Hum-Singing This Alone in the Whole Foods Check Out Line, Kill Me Maybe?"
In this stage, you realized that, more than any average radio tune, this song absolutely lodged itself in your consciousness and refused to let go until you remembered exactly what it felt like to be a 13-year-old girl again (even if you were, ya know, a 25-year-old man). Maybe it tapped into the yearning in all of us to have that boy or girl reach out, even though we knew damn well he or she might not. Maybe it was the way her voice was so goddamn perfectly syncopated with the drums and did such a sickeningly lovely duet with the string sample in the chorus ("Hey!" *piercing string sample* "I just met you!" *piercing string sample* "and this is crazy!" *piercing string sample*... you get the idea). Maybe it was the utterly nonsensical yet incredibly true-to-life bridge: "Before you came into my life I missed you so bad/I missed you SO SO bad!" (liiiiike... what?). Whatever the reason, you couldn't stop thinking about "Call Me Maybe" and realized it was slowly becoming your pop culture overlord and the supreme ruler of your iTunes, even as you actively tried to resist/pretended you didn't like it around your cool, hipster friends/deleted it from your iPhone.
Stage 3: "Wait, Again... Carly Rae Jepsen Is Actually Older Than 15? Awwwkwwwaaardddd!"
Some of us had this moment when we saw the kinda awkward music video, others during her performance on this past weekend's Billboard awards. However you discovered it, the harsh reality in the bleak light of day was that Carly Rae Jepsen was way older than you wanted her to be when you first heard "Call Me Maybe." In some ways, it was a minor detail. CRJ was only 26 years old, after all. But when the song first became the centerpiece of our modern world, you of course rightfully assumed that this girl could not possibly have graduated high school yet. Now, it slowly dawned on you that delivering the lines "your stare was holding' / ripped jeans, skin was showin' / hot night, wind was blowin'!" was not nearly as charming when you realized the chick singing them was actually older than you. Suddenly, you weren't getting a fun peek into the pure, un-jaded psyche of a teenage girl, but perhaps into that of an emotionally stunted Canadian chick who dressed like a 12-year-old being chaperoned to her first One Direction concert. Consequently, you felt a little dirty and had to leave "Call Me Maybe" alone for a little while you collected your thoughts and reevaluated your own life.
Stage 4: "Logic Be Damned, I Don't Care How Old This Lady Is! This is the Best Effin' Song EVERRR!!!!"
Here, you quickly got the fuck over all the ambivalence and confusion of Stage 3. You remembered, "Hey! This is pop music. It's inherently ludicrous and is meant to tap into the inner teenager that lives in all of us (well, it mostly comes out when I'm drunk)." You reloaded "Call Me Maybe" back onto your iPhone and danced around your room to it with all your cool hipster friends who had, by then, also realized how amazing it was. You were back to ironically posting the lyrics all over your Twitter and Facebook, and having full-blown text conversations with your friends using only the words to the song. You were also taking the lyrics and tailoring them to every situation in your personal life (eg. "Hey, I've worked here for a year, and this isn't all that crazy, but here's my stack of bills, so pay me, maybe!?") This stage was your genuine surrender to the authority of Sergeant Jepsen's Lonely Hearts Club Band.
Stage 5: "Picking Up the Pieces: Where Do We Go From Here?"
The final frontier in your journey will be hitting all of us simultaneously over the next couple months. Where do we as a people go from here? Unfortunately, judging by her performance at the BBMA's, you can't feel too confident that CRJ is gonna be able to follow this number up. But do you even want her to? She's already given you both the sauciest jam of the summer and perhaps even a subversively intellectual breakdown of the social disorder of our generation brought on by the disfunction of smartphone communication (she doesn't want to "look right at you, baby," she'd rather talk on the phone with a safe distance between your physical beings. Sharp!). Does Carly Rae have anything else to give? Only time will tell. All you can do is thank her for this delicious pop tune and hope and pray that that man finally just picked up the damn phone and called her... maybe.