Carly

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - ENTERTAINMENT -

The nominations, by the way, were for song of the year and best pop solo per­for­mance, both for Call Me Maybe, a dev­il­ishly sim­ple spi­ral of de­mure, disco-pop cot­ton-candy with a cho­rus that has been per­ma­nently tat­tooed on our col­lec­tive cul­tural me­mory. It was a juicy wad of bub­blegum that still hasn’t lost its taste.

The song topped charts in Canada, the U.S., New Zealand, Aus­tria, France, Ire­land, Den­mark, Switzer­land and the United King­dom. It oc­cu­pied the top spot in the U.S. for nine straight weeks, achiev­ing a sum­mer ubiq­uity typ­i­cally re­served for the ping­ing bells of an ice cream truck. It elicited goofy cov­ers from Justin Bieber, the Mi­ami Dol­phin cheer­lead­ers, the Har­vard Univer­sity base­ball team, Cookie Mon­ster, and — thanks to some clever edit­ing tricks — U.S. Pres­i­dent Barack Obama, kind of.

And it trans­formed Jepsen, from a Cana­dian Idol also-ran who was seem­ingly tread­ing water in her home coun­try’s in­dif­fer­ent mu­sic in­dus­try into an in­ter­na­tional star whose sig­na­ture catchy, care­free mu­si­cal bon­bon was as dif­fi­cult to dis­like as it was to avoid.

Jepsen fol­lowed with the well­re­ceived full-length Kiss — which both proved her song­writ­ing chops be­yond her first sin­gle, and es­tab­lished Jepsen’s neon-splashed sound, rooted in blithe ’80s new wave — and loaned her pipes to an­other Top 10 smash in her Owl City col­lab­o­ra­tion Good Time.

But Jepsen cer­tainly never pre­sumed Grammy recog­ni­tion.

“The Gram­mys, to me, has al­ways been one of those things that you don’t really al­low your­self to dream about — at least I hadn’t,” said Jepsen, who wrote Call Me Maybe with Mar­i­anas Trench front­man Josh Ram­say and gui­tarist Tav­ish Crowe.

“I never really pic­tured my­self there. It’s kind of just been an eye­open­ing year.”

The perky Jepsen then segues into a fa­mil­iar in­spi­ra­tional re­frain, about the re­al­iza­tion that dreams can be at­tain­able with work and luck and the good sense to rec­og­nize an op­por­tu­nity and run with it.

But, cru­cially, she un­der­stood the flip side just as well — the de­mor­al­iz­ing frus­tra­tion of an artist strug­gling to break through, and the ac­com­pa­ny­ing fear that the win­dow to that broader world was inch­ing shut, year by year.

“It was really nice,” she says, “to feel the hunger and fight of it not work­ing for so many years. And really, really get­ting hun­gry, and try­ing dif­fer­ent ways and putting up your own posters and hop­ing peo­ple would show up at your con­certs.”

Cer­tainly, the whiplash im­me­di­acy of Jepsen’s fame isn’t lost on her — par­tic­u­larly since the mem­o­ries of what life was like be­fore are still so re­cent.

In­deed, Jepsen seems re­fresh­ingly nor­mal, suit­ably gob­s­macked by the po­si­tion in which she finds her­self.

She still mar­vels at the power of her “huge ma­chine of a team,” which in­cludes Bieber’s pow­er­ful man­ager, Scooter Braun. She cheer­fully shrugs off the sug­ges­tion — floated by Braun and oth­ers — that she was “snubbed” out of a nom­i­na­tion in the best new artist cat­e­gory, con­vinc­ingly in­sist­ing she’s “hon­oured with what­ever I’ve got­ten.”

And when dis­cussing the Gram­mys gen­er­ally, she still seems to feel closer to the young woman who spent so many years gaz­ing at the sparkling stars parad­ing along the red car­pet — rather than the bud­ding star­let about to strut along the same. (In fact, she con­fides that she’s been ag­o­niz­ing over which of two dresses she wants to wear, and her band­mates — “I tour with boys,” she snorts — have been no help).

“I’ve been the ul­ti­mate pop­corn and PJs (viewer), really judg­men­tal over which girl was wear­ing the coolest dress — that kind of watcher,” she re­called, laugh­ing.

“My favourite part was al­ways the be­gin­ning. Maybe it’s the girl­ish lit­tle fash­ion­ista in me, who was just sit­ting there and hav­ing fun de­cid­ing — like out of 10 — which dress is the best one. And see­ing it later on if it made the list.

“Now, all of a sud­den, to get to go through those old pic­tures and think: ’Oh my gosh, what am I go­ing to wear?’ This is a whole new thing.”

It’s of course not un­ex­pected when Jepsen doesn’t make any claims about her chances to win an award — even the chaste comeon de­liv­ered in her chart-top­per is tem­pered with a shrug­ging “maybe.” But it’s a topic of dis­cus­sion for many Grammy watch­ers.

Although Grammy vot­ers some­times seem re­luc­tant to sup­port youth-skew­ing pure pop, some prog­nos­ti­ca­tors are cu­ri­ous whether Jepsen’s tune could prove an ex­cep­tion in the stacked song of the year cat­e­gory, where it will com­pete against sin­gles in­clud­ing the boom­ing fun. an­them We Are Young and Miguel’s soul­ful earth­quake Adorn.

“(It was) the big­gest, most pop­u­lar, most rec­og­niz­able song of the year and I think it de­serves to win when you look at the rest of the peo­ple in the cat­e­gory,” MuchMu­sic VJ Lau­ren Toy­ota said in a re­cent tele­phone in­ter­view.

“It was the most pur­chased song of the year. Ev­ery­one loves this song. Ev­ery­one. Across the board. Knows it, knows who she is be­cause of it. I just can’t see it go­ing to any­one else.”

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