When “Call Me Maybe” dropped in 2012 and snaked its spiny tentacles into our ear canals, latching on to the vulnerable tissue therein, the possibility of another earworm reaching that level of infernal infectiousness seemed totally impossible. No song could ever out-sugar or annoy quite like Carly Rae Jepsen’s debut smash single, but damn, girl is trying with her latest.
On Saturday Night Live this week, Jepsen brought forth “I Really Like You” — her enthusiastic cartwheel back to Top 40 since her “Call Me Maybe” days (and no, we’re not counting that godawful collaboration with Owl City) — and “All That,” two tunes that laid it on thick with the synthed-out nostalgia and Teen Dream Queen vibes. The days of Tiffany and Debbie Gibson have long since left us, but Jepsen not only looks the part (and totally ravaged the closets of one of the two Eighties adolescent pop tarts to do so) but doles out the same wholesome and saccharine pleasures, one catchy chorus at a time. “I Really Like You” is as appealing today as it would’ve been had it made its entrance on MTV in a pink-taffeta-clad glorious whirlwind in 1988, and maybe that’s the secret ingredient in Jepsen’s likability and success: She taps into the guilty-pleasure vein for today’s grown-ups by mining the memories of their first pop listens of the past. Either that or she just has such an unapologetically good time while beaming her way through her songs that it takes a major effort to dislike anything she does.
To start, “I Really Like You” featured Jepsen at her effervescent best, and the ABC Family vibes of “Call Me Maybe” were ditched in favor of straightforward pop tropes. She wrinkles her nose, she bites her lip, she works a ‘tude while looking directly into the lens of one of Studio 8H’s cameramen: This could easily be a music-video performance of yesteryear, and yet Jepsen is here and belting her face off and dancing like a total nerd in a universal, timeless way. The nasal quality of her previous output is nowhere to be found, and “Call Me Maybe” has now been thoroughly unseated as the reigning single in Jepsen’s repertoire.
And with “All That,” Dev Hynes and producer Ariel Rechstaid joined Jepsen for a slow jam that worked the singer’s range and her propensity for a sultry rhythmic groove. “All That” makes for an inoffensive listen and Jepsen didn’t strike a single bad note, breathiness and all, but it’s hard to shake the “Damn, I wish Solange was singing this instead” whispers of doubt that come creeping in over the more challenging rolls of the tune.
As for the internet, Bieber showed his love for his buddy, Alana Haim got into the Twitter accolades, and plenty got caught up in Jepsen’s way-back machine.
First and foremost, Jepsen walked in to SNL with Bieber’s support behind her.
@carlyraejepsen good luck on SNL tonight
— Justin Bieber (@justinbieber) April 5, 2015
The littlest Haim sister approved, too:
— Alana HAIM (@babyhaim) April 5, 2015
OK, so everyone DID see/hear that…
Carly Rae Jepsen, apparently shooting for “Debbie Gibson album track circa 1987” with this other new song on SNL.
— Matthew Perpetua (@perpetua) April 5, 2015
I Love the Nineties (But Not This Much):
This Carly Rae Jepsen song sounds like it should be playing during the credits of a 90s rom-com. #SNL
— Bonnie Dean (@BonDean) April 5, 2015
This Carly Rae Jepsen performance on #SNL is a reminder of all of the parts of the 90’s we should’ve forgotten.
— Greg Franklin (@kentuckychrome) April 5, 2015
Bro you’re missing a Degrassi reference from your tweet, hold on a sec —
Canada beat NZ in sevens and Carly Rae Jepsen on SNL? Biggest day for Canada since the Queen let them amend their own constitution in 1997.
— J.R. Lind (@jrlind) April 5, 2015
Where’s that “YOU TRIED” sticker?
Carly Rae Jepsen is trending.
And this is crazy.
She’s not relevant.
So she’s dead, maybe?
— Matthew Foxwell (@MLFoxwell) April 5, 2015