Call Me Maybe ... an analysis


Song: Call Me Maybe

Artist: Carly Rae Jepsen

Album: Kiss / Curiosity EP

Songwriter: Carly Rae Jepsen and Tavish Crowe

Producer: Josh Ramsay

 

Squat me maybe


Overview

“Call Me Maybe” has grown fairly notorious (perhaps a bit infamous) for its ability to wedge itself into the mind of its many listeners. Pop music is known to be “catchy” like this, but why should this song in particular stand out in its catchiness?


If by some strange circumstance you have yet to hear this song, feel free to fill yourself in and pop the audial parasite into your brain now:



Genre

This song is the epitome of synthpop. Us consumers of popular music in the past decade have gained a monstrous taste for loud and thumping drum machines and driving sequenced synthesizers that tightly divide each measure of the song into rhythmically simple (read: easily digestible) chunks. With the aforementioned use of synthesizers and its glistening, squeaky clean production, “Call Me Maybe” is well primed to whet the appetite of the 21st century pop market.

Concept

A (implied youthful) female singer sings dreamily of her insurmountable desire for a guy that she has only just met, asking then in the chorus coyly that he call her.

Call me dudely

(the guy)

 

Rhythm/Groove

This song calls on the classic four on the floor beat with a steady eighth note pizzicato string section, picking up to a driving (still four on the floor) disco beat with offbeat hi-hats and a snare backbeat, and picking up once again in the choruses with the same disco beat, offset colorfully with syncopated arco strings.

Hook

Like most successful hits, this song has many elements that could be labeled its “hook”:

  • Notably among them are the sharp orchestral strikes doubled by the bass driving the chorus.

  • Jepsen’s sweet “bubblegum” voice has been compared to Katy Perry in reviews attributing this to her quick fame.

  • The tight production really sells the song home with sharp cinematic transitions between sections of the song (namely the hissing build into the chorus).

  • The steady pizzicato strings that are introduced in the beginning serve as a streamline pedalpoint in the verses which adds a unique color to a fairly straightforward chord progression.

Arrangement

Lead female vocals over electronic drums, synthesized orchestral strings and an electric guitar and bass.

Lyric

This song has a basic rhyme scheme full of repetition and cliche imagery and emphatic youthful romanticism.

  • The verses and prechoruses reflect the rhythmic simplicity in the rhyme scheme which generally adheres to an AAAB pattern. This builds tension for every stanza, saving “relief” of the rhyme until the very last line of every stanza, creating the effect of the lines sort of rolling over themselves.

  • The choruses change it up with an ABCB rhyme pattern, allowing the “catchy” part of the song to stick out, providing lyrical relief from the verses.

  • The bridge... well... I’ll let you sort out the rhyme scheme of “bad...bad...bad...”.

callmefacely

Melody

  • The verses stay in a relatively simple melodic pattern in Carly’s lower register, alternating two straight eighth notes that hit at least one tension tone for the first three chords. Then she syncopates all three chord tones of the last chord of each cycle of the four chord pattern.

  • The pre-choruses start on the same note, descending with every other line, building anticipation for the chorus through repetition.
  • The chorus is the only part of the song to break the pattern of embedded repetition within each stanza as the melody changes on each chord change.

Harmony

Yet another manifestation of the I-V-vi-V chord cycle, all the way through the song, colored by a pedal tone on the pizzicato in the verses.

Structure

structure

Production

The synthesized strings allow a big and bursting sound in the accompaniment and the heavily layered electronic drums give the song some in-your-face contrast.

Performance

Jepsen’s sweet vocal tone gives the song a fun, playful tone. The vocals in the song, however, seem to be the only thing human, all other aural space being filled with synthesizers, drum machines and processed guitars. This isn’t to say that anything is detracted from the song in its robotic, studio-polished perfection, but it certainly does define the sound.

Predicted Longevity

Its appeal to a more youthful party-oriented audience allows the song to thrive in an upbeat-hungry market, but just as this hunger allows the song to sustain, it could just as well mean a sudden abandonment of its popularity, though the infectious chorus will at least keep it in the minds of the listeners for years to come.



Chase Watkins

chase@chasewatkins.com