Carly Rae Jepsen rose to superstardom in the summer of 2012 with her bubblegum pop mega hit "Call Me Maybe." While her follow up album, Emotion, didn't make a too big of a commercial impact, a huge (and largely gay) cult following formed behind her.
When he first picked up Emotion per a friend's recommendation, screenwriter Max Landis believed Jepsen to just be a fun pop artist with exceptionally catchy choruses. But once Landis began to actually listen to the lyrics, he found common themes throughout the entire album and began making connections between every single song in Jepsen's discography, and the music weaves a much more heartbreaking story than a casual listen shows you.
Let's take a deeper look into "Call Me Maybe."
At first glance, the song seems pretty straightforward. Carly wants her crush to give her a call, and the video reinforces that narrative.
"Hey, I just met you," Carly sings. "And this is crazy/But here's my number/So call me maybe/It's hard to look right at you baby/But here's my number/So call me maybe." But what's with all of the hesitation? Is it perhaps a forbidden love interest she finds herself attracted to?
What about her other hit, "I Really Like You?"
"I really wanna stop/But I just got the taste for it," she begins. Wait, huh? Stop what? "Late night, watching television/But how'd we get in this position?/It's way too soon, I know this isn't love/But I need to tell you something." Seems like something deeper than just a school-girl crush.
And the forever meme-able "Run Away With Me?" Nothing but a giddy fantasy song, right?
"You're stuck in my head, stuck on my heart, stuck on my body, body/I wanna go, get out of here, I'm sick of the party, party/I'd run away/I'd run away with you." She can't get this guy out of her head and she wants to run away with him.
"Oh baby, take me to the feeling/I'll be your sinner, in secret/When the lights go out/Run away with me." Sinner in secret? Is the lyric simply referring to the act of sex, or is Carly asking this boy to do something a bit more sinister, like cheat on his girlfriend and run away with her?
Max Landis noticed that the lyrics seem...off from how the upbeat songs feel, and that's just the tip of the iceberg. He began to dissect every single song on Emotion and what he discovered shook him to his core.
In what he calls "The Jepsen Pattern," he noted that at least one of seven themes appear in the lyrics of every single Carly Rae Jepsen song: temptation, limerence, obsession, escape, secrets, rejection, and misery. You heard right! Every. Single. Song.
Go! Relisten! Not once does the pop star sing about being in reciprocated love. Themes of being in the friend-zone, desperate fantasies, hiding a secret, stopping herself from acting on her feelings, and a forbidden love hovers menacingly over every track, remarkably easy to miss in the soaring choruses. Don't believe me? Dive down the rabbit hole for yourself.
Carly has disguised her epic forbidden love/heartbreak in up-tempo, synth-pop songs.
After a full examination of every track on Carly's albums, Landis linked every song together with his pattern and came to a startling conclusion.
"Together, Kiss and Emotion the story of a young, hesitant, shy girl who was going through a rough emotional situation, possibly a bad relationship, when she fell in love with an overworked/unhappy platonic male friend, a professional peer who was a musician, like her.
They began to spend a lot of time together, as friends, but the tension was high. He flirted with her first, and she stopped herself, but finally gave in and things got out of control, becoming sexual. This is characterized as 'wrong' or a morally 'dark' choice, needing to be kept a secret.
They have a brief romantic/sexual relationship; it’s escapist fun, and although he never Spends the Night, she becomes more into it than he is. She is overwhelmed, and says things she regrets, possibly declaring her love for him.
Her level of devotion alienates him, because it turns out he was very probably just using her as an escape from his girlfriend and his real life, and he rejects her, trying to step back the relationship to 'just friends.' This catastrophically breaks her heart, as she remains convinced he loves her, and that they are meant to be together.
She is devastated and endlessly pleads for him to give her a second chance, frantically switching between open begging and attempts at manipulation, appealing to his black heart or worst nature. However, they are Separated By Physical Distance, in two separate cities, and she wonders privately if he even thinks about her at all."
So why does her music sound so damn fun and happy? Desperation.
"It hit me like a lightning bolt," wrote Landis. "DESPERATION is EXCITING. Desperation is thrilling! Especially romantic desperation of the themes Carly is describing; it's not a romantic comedy, and it’s not a love story: It's a thriller."
Not enough proof for you just yet? Read Landis's full 150-page dissertation and decide for yourself.