Back in 2011, a young singer released what would become a life-changing song. Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe” started with mild success in Canada, before going viral, and by 2012, the lyrics, “Hey, I just met you / And this is crazy / But here’s my number / So call me maybe,” were on everyone’s lips. The song of the summer went on to conquer the world with its infectious melody and adolescent sincerity. Looking back at this perfect piece of pop music, Billboard claimed “Call Me Maybe” contained one of the “greatest choruses of the 21st century.”
While it’s almost impossible to reach that same level again, Jepsen has continued to push out delightful music to her adoring fans and earn critical acclaim — like when Pitchfork called her follow-up effort, EMOTION, one of the best albums of the 2010s. “I want to take my time with my life as well as with my career,” Jepsen told The Star in 2013. “I want longevity rather than a flash in the pan. I’m all about the quality rather than the speed.”
So, which Jepsen song is your absolute favorite? Grab the karaoke mic and get ready to sing along, because this is the untold truth of Carly Rae Jepsen.
The internet's strange campaign for Carly Rae Jepsen
In 2018, a surprising internet campaign featured Carly Rae Jepsen at the forefront. It all started when a fan on Tumblr started a “petition to give Carly Rae Jepsen a sword.” For what reason? “I like her and think she should have one,” the post noted. Well, okay then. Repost after repost, the request took flight, with devotees of the singer even making fan art, GQ reports. Eventually, Jepsen herself caught wind of the odd viral moment, when someone close to her asked, “Have you seen this campaign to give you a sword?” The hitmaker simply responded, “Why?”
During her set at Lollapalooza that August, a fan actually tossed an inflatable sword on stage during Jepsen’s appropriately titled song, “Cut to the Feeling.” Per GQ, she shouted, “‘Ho yeah, a sword!’ sounding equal parts surprised, enthusiastic, and bewildered.” As Jepsen recounted to the outlet, “I am looking at my band and they are just dying. They were like, ‘Yeah, let’s go with it.'” Though she was genuinely surprised, it wasn’t the first time fans shared their love in strange ways — like when Jepsies turned the epic saxophone intro of her song, “Run Away with Me,” into a Vine meme.
The real-life fairy tale of Carly Rae Jepsen
Before becoming a pop princess, Carly Rae Jepsen had a different fairy tale ending in mind when she attended the Canadian College of Performing Arts to study musical theater. “The minute I started there I knew it was the place for me,” she told The Star in 2014. Adding that she’d “never worked so hard in [her] life,” Jepsen’s studies included “tap dancing, acting, vocal lessons, [and] trips to New York, where [they’d] see 11 Broadway shows and meet people who’d been to the school who were now singing and dancing in New York.”
After hitting it big in the music industry, the recording artist’s dreams came true when she landed the lead role as Cinderella in the Broadway musical of the same name. Jepson later told Entertainment Weekly in 2019 that she accepted the part “to get out of the pop bubble and into the theatrical world,” saying, “[It] was also really exciting for me just as a little musical-theater nerd.” She went even further in 2016, when she played Frenchy alongside Vanessa Hudgens on the TV special Grease: Live, per Rolling Stone.
Three adults helped kickstart Carly Rae Jepsen's career
After graduating from the Canadian College of Performing Arts, Carly Rae Jepsen found herself stuck. Despite her musical theater aspirations after many New York City trips to see Broadway shows, she still had no job and no direction. At home, the singer-songwriter’s parents gifted her a guitar, and she later told The Star, “I would sit around with it and write my little tunes.” Jepsen added, “The more I played and wrote and sang, the more I realized it was music that I loved rather than any particular way of performing it.”
Around that time, Jepsen’s old high school teacher told the then-recent graduate about the upcoming fifth season of Canadian Idol. “[She] convinced me it was the right thing for me to do next,” Jepsen explained. “She drove me to the audition and when they gave me the ticket I think she was even happier than me.” While she didn’t take home the winning title back in 2007, the singer placed third in the competition, high enough to go on tour with her fellow contestants. This ongoing Idol spotlight was just what Jepsen needed to catch the attention of producers, and she eventually found her way into a recording studio.
One smash hit later, and the rest is international music star history.
From coffee shop lattes to chasing her dream
Although Carly Rae Jepsen was still relatively young when she made her way onto radios worldwide, she struggled to reach her goals as a financially struggling college graduate. Even with a performing arts degree under her belt, Jepsen revealed to The Star, “I still didn’t know if I wanted to fight for it all my life or just settle into a 9-to-5 job and give up on it.” She confessed, “I had some tough times back then, a monthly struggle to pay the bills.” This meant working multiple minimum-wage jobs.
“I was a pastry shop assistant, a barista, a bartender at the Media Club in Vancouver,” Jepsen said. In addition to “[starting] a music night once a week” at the cafe, she attempted to launch a “jazz band that could play at events like weddings and birthdays.” Despite her lack of musical success back then, Jepsen revealed a few skills to Bon Appetit that never went away, including creating latte art (“I’m sure I would remember at least how to make a leaf or something”), and some recipes … though Jepsen might be better at remembering her song lyrics: “Now I don’t know how to make anything except for eight cheesecakes. A whole batch, not just one.”
Perhaps these hard times built character, as Jepsen fondly added to The Star, “I realize that those are struggles everybody goes through. The only difference is if you give up or not.”
How Carly Rae Jepsen spices up her life
Given her light, sugary pop musical style, it’s not surprising that Carly Rae Jepsen found inspiration from similar pop singers in the past. She recalled a specific day she visited a record store to Pitchfork in 2019, when a young Jepsen had a song in mind, but at the time, she couldn’t simply Google the lyrics. Instead, she naturally decided to hum the popular tune to an employee. “Tell me what you want, what you really want,” Jepsen sang. To which the man apparently “groaned before directing her to the Spice Girls’ ‘Wannabe.'” (Hey man, don’t hate.)
She had previously confirmed the impact of the British girl group’s debut album to Rolling Stone. “I kind of got a taste for the Spice Girls when they came out,” Jepsen said in her 2012 interview. “Wannabe, it’s a rad album.” Jepsen also revealed that she’s a big fan of karaoke with her friends. And you can probably guess one of her go-to picks. As she told Entertainment Weekly, “It’s just more fun to go up with your girlfriends and be the Spice Girls together, you know?”
Carly Rae Jepsen is a studio workhorse
The so-called “sophomore slump” is a common downfall for many musical artists. The theory is that a musician spends their entire life writing the songs for a debut album — but then, once fame hits, the artist is expected to create a second record in just a few years. Yet, for Carly Rae Jepsen — who actually became famous following the success of her sophomore album, Kiss — crafting songs seems to be as easy as going for a walk.
In 2019, she opened up about her prolific songwriting process in an interview with Entertainment Weekly, admitting, “I do overwrite!” When talking about her fourth album, Dedicated, Jepsen revealed that the process was similar to her third record, EMOTION: “I wrote about 200 songs again and then narrowed them down to these 15 so yeah, I went a little crazy.”
While speaking with GQ that same year, Jepsen shared that this lengthy creative process also involves sticky note and a spreadsheet — though “not an exact science” — to rank songs. She’s even hosted parties in the past to have friends and family vote on their favorites, and recalled an evening filled with pizza, wine, and her music, where “everyone got tipsy and passionately angry at each other in like the loveliest way.”
Carly Rae Jepsen got a little help from the Biebs
Carly Rae Jepsen can partially thank her massive success to fellow Canadian pop star Justin Bieber. According to Billboard, the Biebs heard “Call Me Maybe” on Canadian radio and loved it so much that “he and his pals (including then-girlfriend Selena Gomez) made a YouTube video lip-synching” to the song. The ear candy quickly made its way onto the US charts, and “Jepsen spent the back half of 2012 as the opener on Bieber’s Believe tour, and as the newest signee by Bieber’s manager, Scooter Braun.” No big deal.
On the night the two singers officially met, Bieber invited Jepsen to a studio “and asked her, on a whim, to record a duet with him.” The song in question was “Beautiful,” which made its way onto Jepsen’s Kiss album. Looking back, she fondly remembers the dream-like moment, telling Man Repeller in 2019, “You know when you watch those movie montages where all the good things happen in a period of a minute and 30 seconds? It felt a little bit like my life was that.”
Years after that first encounter, Jepsen told Fact magazine that she’s kept a professional relationship with Bieber. “Obviously he’s a huge part of my career, from breaking out of Canada to now and finding the label,” she said. “We both support each other.”
The aftermath of a number one single
Most music artists dream of writing the perfect song that captures the hearts of people all around the world. Carly Rae Jepsen wrote such a song and secured her place in pop history with her single, “Call Me Maybe.” But with the popularly of this perfect song, unintended consequences were unfortunately part of the deal. While speaking with Entertainment Weekly about what it was like to briefly “have an intense amount of fame,” Jepsen confessed, “I wasn’t too comfy with it for sure. But I think it was mostly because it happened in such a rush, and it was really shocking.”
According to Jepsen, she felt that one of the most dangerous aspects of sudden fame was “if you start to let other people tell you who you are before you have an idea of that yourself.” The hitmaker added that, fortunately, she didn’t have any terrible experiences, but noted that she “did feel like [she] wanted to cocoon myself a little bit” when people told her about paparazzi hot spots around town. Further detailing her spike in fame to the Independent, Jepsen admitted, “I didn’t love it as much as I thought I would have. I found it to be a really jarring experience, [partly because] I think I’m a little bit private.”
Turning a creepy jingle into a sexy pop hook
As a self-proclaimed musical theater nerd, Carly Rae Jepsen unsurprisingly found a way to incorporate Disney into her music. The singer told Entertainment Weekly about the inspiration behind her song, “Everything He Needs,” from her Dedicated album, explaining that the chorus is “from the movie Popeye With Robin Williams. It’s an interpolation where Olive Oyl goes, [singing] ‘He needs me, he needs me,’ and it’s super creepy.” Jepsen added the “musical-theater part of [her]” wanted to obtain the song rights “from Disney and, like, funk it up.”
But it wasn’t a simple transaction, even for a star as big as Jepsen. She claimed, “Disney is very hard to get approvals from, so I went to Disneyland and got a fake contract, and I had a Mickey Mouse there sign it.” With her newly notarized letter, according to The Guardian, Jepsen “then sent a photo to her record label who got onto Disney and pushed it through.” Hey, it’s hard to argue with King Mickey’s seal of approval.
Carly Rae Jepsen's songs take more than a party of one
Part of Carly Rae Jepsen’s success is her penchant for collaborating with the right producers. In a 2019 interview with The Guardian, the pop star said she learned to avoid “LA-ish” producers “who treat songwriting collaboration like therapy sessions for the artist.” Jepsen added of these types, “I don’t need you to write about my life! I’ve got this!”
Her discernment paid off and she synched up with Jack Antonoff, the lead singer of Bleachers and Lena Dunham’s ex-boyfriend. “Jack’s always so great about being open about, if I have like a little nugget of something I want to share, that he can just like develop it to like a whole different place,” Jepsen told Entertainment Weekly. The two first collaborated back in 2012, when Antonoff co-wrote her song, “Sweetie,” from her breakout album, Kiss (via Billboard).
Jepsen shared similar sentiments about Dev Hynes, the singer of Blood Orange and producer for Haim, rapper and fashion icon A$AP Rocky, and the late Mac Miller, among many others. “When we write together, there’s a bit of magic there,” Jepsen said of Hynes to Consequence of Sound. “It takes away the LA, Hollywood, corporate feelings that songwriting sessions can turn into.” Apparently, his process is much more natural and puts Jepsen in the right state of mind: “It comes back to the way that songwriting began for me. It’s nice to be reminded of that magic.”
Life in Hollywood wasn't easy for Carly Rae Jepsen
Like fellow Canadian citizen-turned-superstar Justin Bieber, Carly Rae Jepsen made the move from the Great White North to Los Angeles — and coming from a country stereotyped for people being extremely friendly, Jepsen realized the city of stars sometimes fulfilled its own stereotypes.
In a February 2020 interview with the Independent, she remembered once visiting a dentist who suggested the singer get veneers: “And I’m like, ‘Who the f**k are you?! I didn’t come here for this! Just dental floss me!” On another occasion, Jepsen went in for a routine touch-up for her eyebrows. “And the woman’s like, ‘You ever thought maybe you could narrow your…’ She points to her nose,” she confessed. “This place is just crazy. And you can’t buy into it.”
The singer had moved to LA early on in her career, just as “Call Me Maybe” began to explode in popularity. “Everything was new and people were very intimidating,” she told Paper magazine, before adding, “I think it’s been a lot of time of falling in love slowly with Los Angeles. It’s taken me having to find the right friends.” Jepsen went on to reveal, “I’ve come to some peace with it, I guess.”
How much is Carly Rae Jepsen worth?
As of this writing in 2020, Carly Rae Jepsen has released four studio albums, two full-length B-side records, and several successful singles — which you can add on top of her world tour revenues. Put this all together and Jepsen is worth an estimated $10 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth.
Despite her big paychecks, however, this singer still enjoys the simple and inexpensive pleasures in life, and this includes a lot of candy. During her 2019 interview for Man Repeller, for example, Jepsen and the journalist in question traveled around New York City and bought “$175 dollars worth of candy” together. Wow!
Perhaps as a way to counteract all that sugar intake, Jepsen also revealed her obsession with beauty products and hair coloring, telling Allure around that time, “I think I got a little hooked on the feeling of chameleon-ing yourself and what that does for your confidence, even your sense of identity.” Jepsen added that these different forms of expression provide the “ability to kind of play and not have this expectation of what you’re supposed to be like.”
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