So, the big girl and I have a new song for the summertime dance parties (which unfortunately for all of you are invitation-only). Lately, we have both been listening to and singing along Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe,” and we aren’t the only ones. NPR’s Ann Powers tackles the song’s infectious appeal:
Every note vacillating between major and minor chords along the tonic; every slice of a string section that seems real but’s just a synthesizer dream; every one of Jepsen’s hopeful, tossed-off “maybes” and time-muddling lines about how “before you came into my life / I missed you so bad” — these details add up to make “Call Me Maybe” one of those pop songs that doesn’t just describe or recall innocence, but aims to reproduce it, putting you smack inside that state of possibility.
Perhaps, its upbeat nature, and its repetitive lyrics that appeal to both a thirty-something and a three year old. It is fun to sing. But, I think it also the emphasis on the “maybe,” the potential of something not quite there, which resonates too. The almost potential, the possibility that Powers evokes, proves to be fleeting, charming and fun all at once. The optimism appeals, and smiling seems guaranteed. And folks on YouTube seem to agree considering the proliferation of “Call Me Maybe” covers from bikini-clad cheerleaders, baseball teams, Jimmy Fallon, middle school boys acting out the lyrics quite literally and even a rendition of what President Obama’s cover might sound like.
Powers finds the middle school cover to be the most endearing. She writes:
It’s just adorable. And though the makers intercut insistent testimonies to the group’s heterosexuality — “This is dedicated to the GIRLS WE LIKE!” — these young men are utterly comfortable acting out same-sex desire. Teaching tolerance may not have been Jepsen’s intention with “Call Me Maybe,” but she’s given these kids a forum to learn it together.
….This aspect of the “Call Me Maybe” phenomenon gives us pause to reflect upon how often bigotry is rooted in personal pain and disappointment. It’s worth it, sometimes, to try to reach back and remember what it felt like to not know somebody — or something, like a belief system — might let you down.
Right now, this gentle message feels very important. Public discourse abounds with hate speech and snap judgments as the political cycle heads toward a showdown. In the midst of such a cycle, small gestures like the responses to “Call Me Maybe” are a gift: that gift of a tickle. Wake up, be human, be happy, don’t turn your back on love.