It was so close to being such a familiar story: once upon a time, there was this third-place Canadian Idol contestant from British Columbia who was discovered by Justin Bieber of all people. She made one of the biggest hits of 2012 and then released a very ok album. She then promptly faded into the middle ranks of the nearly famous. Epilogue: a couple years later she released a single that no one liked as much as “Call Me Maybe” and dropped an album that no one bought The End.
This could have so easily happened. In a way, it sort of did when you consider the criminal underperformance of Emotion on the charts. But what happens when a one-hit-wonder is born again? A phoenix risen from the ashes of an exploded star. A queen turned pauper turned prophet. The hero we needed, riding into Gotham to bring us good pop music.
It’s the ultimate – and possibly the only – Underdog Superstar story. One minute she’s making music videos with Petra Collins and sporting a mullet. There she is playing the main stage at the Pitchfork festival. Here’s Tom Hanks lip syncing “I Really Really Like You.” She’s an artist! She’s a pop star! She’s you! She’s me!
Carly Rae Jepsen is living proof that in this life you can be many things. You can be a teen star and the girl next door and a sex symbol and a girl power icon and you can bounce back but in a different direction and rock a mullet and do musical theater and release a b-sides album and goddamnit you can fall in love with pop music all over again.