FREE VERSE: Bubblegum Pop for the Soul

A few weeks ago, as I hopped into a friend’s car, my eyes slid slowly to meet his face at the sound of the bubblegum pop music trickling from his car stereo. Understanding the look, he quickly defended himself saying, “What? It got really good reviews.”

The album was the newest of the bubblegummiest princess since Britney—Carly Rae Jepsen. Of course I, who pride myself on listening to music by women who are mad, liberal, and loud about both, rolled my eyes at my poor friend’s choice of music like a real ass.

But, shortly after this interaction, I had one of those weeks where everyone disappointed me and I started to wonder why people go on with anything, ever. I needed some mindless bubblegum pop from a true princess, so I turned to Ms. Jepsen in the solitude of my bedroom, away from ears as judgmental as my own.

It’s trite. It’s corny. But oh my god is it fulfilling.

Jepsen’s newest album, Emotion, is everything a person in need of pop could ask for. It’s mindless. It’s trite. It’s corny. But oh my god is it fulfilling.

The track “I Really Like You” features lyrics as unsophisticated as “I really, really, really, really, really, really like you./And I want you./Do you want me?/Do you want me too?” But the most fuzzy, comforting part is that, in the song’s incredibly well-funded music video, Tom Hanks lip syncs the entire thing as he goes about his day.

Similarly, the track “Boy Problems” is about nothing more than you would assume. “Boy problems,” Jepsen sings, “Who’s got ‘em? I’ve gotten them, too.” Sung with her flawless voice, she makes relational issues seem like the silly moments when you stub your toe or bang your elbow on a door jam, then have a good laugh about it.

So now, instead of being the snarling, judgy ass that rolls her eyes at sappy, trivial music such as that of Jepsen, I’m embracing the sparkly, un-politicized, sweet little version of myself and, you guys, it feels so good.

—Mariah Taylor

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