By my ear-ssessment, there’s one truly great pop album every year. For full disclosure I actually have about 52 truly favourite albums each year. Still, among that crowd there is always one snap-crackling pop dynamo that stands out as the queen bee among the wanna-bees.
In 2013, that queen bee was literally Queen Bey with her self titled gift from above. At the eleventh hour (on the thirteenth day of the twelfth month) the closest thing we have to GOD rose drunk-in-love and from behind the (ahem) partition of a chauffeur driven car with Jay-Z and told us to bow down. She also called us all bitches and it was as exhilarating as a punch in the face from Regina George … (#meangirls)
Fast forward to 2014 and Taylor Swift’s expertly crafted nod to yesteryear, 1989, took the crown. Like Regina George, Taylor Swift might be the queen bee – mostly through self appointment – but her music is the me-appointed A+++ and saw her formally graduate from country nerd to bona fide (even if sometimes painful) pop princess. PS. Her previous album RED is a worthy predecessor.
And what about 2015, I didn’t necessarily hear you ask?
If the Chinese horoscopes were created based on goings on in pop music it would be the year of the tall poppy cum underdog.
It’s your typical tale of ‘coming third in my country’s version of Pop Idol followed up (a few years later) with one of the most notorious songs of the last decade’. Yep, you know the one. It’s a tale as old as Simon Cowell’s sprouting grey chest hair.
Carly Rae Jepsen is her name and Canadian Idol was her ticket to the game. Watching this clip I would totally have paid competition telephone charges (even international from Australia) to vote for her. She’s like televised song contest porn. I mean she played guitar AND sang an original guys! And did so with cheek ‘n charm. That’s a four horse version of a trifecta.
After Idol she had ‘some’ success in her native homeland before fading into relative oblivion. Then years later, presumably while she was contemplating a stint on X-Factor or Extreme Couponing, fellow Canuk Justin Beiber tweeted Call Me Maybe to his gazillion, errrmm, ‘followers’. You can guess what happened next: she blew up, y’all. That song was inescapable in the best and then inevitably worst of ways – for everyone, including Carly Rae.
Despite/ because of that success, like so many before her CRJ stood/ still stands set for one hit wonder-woman status. Until last year, when she released EMOTION. One of the finest of fine pop releases in recent years, and definitely of last year.
Like Taylor Swift’s 1989, EMOTION was also a modern day nod to that same decade, albeit with less ‘I‘m going to take over the WORLD one smile at a time #girlpower’ shine and ambition. To be fair, she had already done that with Call Me Maybe. Unfortunately, this lack of ‘Taylor Swift-ism’ is probably why radio barely touched it and barely a person bought or streamed it. Ah, the price of artistic integrity. That Taylor Swift and Beyonce expertly straddle both commercial and credible makes them both exceptional and the exception(s) to the rule.
It’s a massive shame because the whole album is solid gold. I DIE for the wonky desperation of Warm Blood, and LIVE for the throwback prom night slow dance of All That and the deliciously ironic LA Hallucinations – a perfect pop song about an imperfect pop industry.
OK, I’m even a sucker for the teen girl BFF vs boyfriends vibe of Boy Problems.
But the albums highlight and pace setter is track numero uno – Run Away With Me. This irresistible piece of pulsating pop art envelops you from ears and mouth to feet with no part of the body and soul untouched.
Run Away With Me is one my favourite type of songs – unbridled (aka unabashedly romantic). The music is a Dexter-worthy perfect match for the lyrics.
My recommendation – listen to it, even just once but make sure it’s LOUD. Then just try not let yourself run away with Carly Rae and the other eleven tracks on the album.