A Close Reading Of ‘Call Me Maybe’


0:00 — People didn’t believe me in the comments of my last article when I said that I hadn’t heard this song until last month, but I only heard it last month. I don’t listen to music, like, ever. People do sometimes send me “funny” videos of, say, the Cookie Monster singing “Call Me Maybe,” but I religiously ignore those funny videos.

0:02 — I don’t listen to music or watch TV, really. It’s all part of what makes me such a great pop culture writer. I watched TV last night, for the first time in months, and found myself getting over-stimulated by all the bright colors and commercials and loud noises. I’m like an Eastern European immigrant, circa 1987: “Television! It is crazy!”

0:05 — I haven’t heard “Gangnam Style” yet either. I look forward to hearing that song, sometime around 2014.

0:07 — So, Carly Rae Jepsen! How’s it going, Carly? After hearing everyone yap about this song over and over, I was prepared for it to be terrible, but it’s really not that terrible.

0:08 — Some not terrible rhyming couplets from Carly, assuming that she actually wrote this song, which I don’t feel like looking up: “I threw a wish in the well/ Don’t ask me; I’ll never tell/ I looked to you as it fell/ And now you’re in my way.” That’s… not so terrible. I mean, sure, it’s basic, but most pop songs are pretty basic. It’s not like “I can’t get no/ Satisfaction/ I can’t get no/ Girl reaction” is like mind-blowingly deep or complex or anything.

0:12 — She reads romance novels; is in love with a guy from a distance. Carly Rae Jepsen = Madame Bovary, basically. Go and read that book if you don’t know what that means.

0:22 — Beefcake, check.

0:25 — This is not what I imagined this video would be like at all.

0:27 — Aw, Carly’s shy. Don’t hide from the hot guy, Carly! You’ve got to let it all hang out, girl! And other such advice like that.

0:40 — This is really not what I imagined this video would be like. I imagined it as all taking place in a dance club or something.

0:42 — Carly’s band is instantly pulling off the massively easy task of being much, much cooler than Taylor Swift’s band.

0:45 — I mowed a lawn without a shirt on once. It was awful. I was instantly covered in chaff from the lawn mower, gnats, and mosquito bites. I realize that we’re not going for gritty realism here with this video, but I’m just saying.

0:53 — I have sort of a thing for Carly Rae Jepsen now, I’ll admit it. Taylor Swift was just way too beanpole-y and naïf-like. But Carly’s all smirky and dirty-girl-like.

0:57 — Thing I often wonder about music videos: Are the parts where bands suddenly start playing, is that all supposed to be taking part within the imagination of the protagonist of the video? Like how in movie musicals, people can just start singing, then go back to normal, and no one’s ever like, “Jesus Christ, why the fuck did you just do that?” …Or am I over-thinking all of this?

1:06 — Oh, Carly. So shy!

1:16 — Sexy car-washing. ‘Kay. So this video is just sort of equal-opportunity beefcake and cheesecake. I respect that.

1:34 — There may be a limited amount of stuff I can say about this song, since it’s mainly one chorus over and over again. I like how Carly frustratedly tossed her car-washing-sponge into the air though. I’m a little smitten, I’ll admit it.

1:45 — I could never even do that very basic not-good moonwalk that the guitarist just did, so, OH GOD, NOTHING IS HAPPENING THAT I CAN MAKE JOKES ABOUT.

1:56 — “And all the other boys/ Try to chase me.” Carly’s song lyrics seem to contradict the shy, flustered-girl persona of video-Carly. Granted, she’s not very convincing in her portrayal of a shy, flustered person. She still pretty much appears to think that she has it goin’ on the whole time, and in this, she is correct.

2:04 — “Before you came into my life/ I missed you so bad.” These lyrics are kind of profound and confusingly existential, I guess. Although a more convincing explanation for the lyrics might be that zero thought was put into these lyrics.


2:15 — Whoops. Oh, Carly; you amiable klutz, you!


2:25 — So, in this dream sequence, we return to a core concept of this video; the notion that idealized romanticized perceptions of reality can in fact have the unintended effect of blocking us from that reality which we so profoundly wish to grasp — the “real” receding into the distance as our imagination moves to the forefront. Or, um, whatever. Maybe I can write a PhD thesis on this whole thing.

2:36 — Beefcake guy seems as intrigued by Carly’s klutzy hotness as I am.

2:38 — Okay, I’m not really sure if this is how falling off a car and hitting your head on concrete re-eeally works. OH HAI, WHAT, DID I BLACK OUT AND GET A CONCUSSION; HA HA HA — THAT’S SO ME! THAT’S SO CARLY.

2:44 — The concussion is aiding her in seducing the guy! You go, Carly! Get it, gurl.

2:50 — Shawl. Interesting fashion, um, choice.

2:57 — Again, is this supposed to be happening in reality? Her jumping up and singing at him from three feet away? Seems doubtful.

3:00 — Yay!

3:01 — Ah, the titular, epistolary “number” of the song’s title.


3:10 — Interesting reaction shot from the band member. Man, this video is so heteronormative.

3:13 — Carly! You SIMPLY CANNOT WIN, CARLY. You are fortune’s fool, Carly! As flies are to wanton boys, so are you to the gods, Carly!

3:14 — Whoa. That was over quick. Reaction shot. Black screen. I’m not ready for it to be over.

So. Sigh! It was all over so fast! How can that be the end, Carly? It can’t be the end, can it? I guess it’s the end. So I’m assuming that Carly Rae Jepsen has “one-hit wonder” written all over her, so I guess maybe it’s really really the end. Oh well. Anyway, I will miss Carly’s smirky ways and occasionally accidentally profound lyrics. And I sort of have a crush on her now. Insert standard concluding joke here where I tell Carly to call me… maybe? And maybe I’ll go ahead and listen to “Gangnam Style” now. Or maybe, probably I really won’t, because that sounds bad. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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