It was not my intention to unfairly demonize Jepsen's hit, which as I said is a perfectly acceptable piece of disposable pop fluff. In fact, I will admit, without shame, to bopping along with the chorus on a couple of occasions, my dismissal of the thing as utterly generic (which I stand by) notwithstanding.
That said, a couple of points raised by our characteristically perceptive readers on the subject behoove addressing.
I think you elucidated most of the charms of this song yourself, SS. It is hook-laden and incredibly catchy and memorable. But it's also attached to a fundamentally real and interesting idea: it is hard for girls, especially young girls, to let their intentions known to boys. I'm convinced that they "Maybe" in the title is the key to the success of the song. It's the kind of qualifier that people use when asking someone out on a date. Anything not to lose face or appear desperate!
I suspect this is exactly right, which is to say the song is significant (and successful) more for its lyrical sync with the zeitgeist than with anything musical.
Just remember this song will be somebody's favorite song of their youth 50 years from now.
I actually think not. Consider: Have you ever met anybody who was seriously nostalgic for Grand Funk's "I'm Your Captain" or -- even more to the point -- Frampton Comes Alive? I certainly haven't. And if I did, I would be reluctant to shake their hand.
From Scott Interrante:
I'm not going to take too much time here, but I do want to just list a few things that, in my eyes, make this song stand out and offer some of that personality you claim it lacks.
There is a deliberate avoidance of the tonic chord. This song is in G major, but the chords throughout are C (G) D (Em) :|| (the G an E minor chord are parenthetical because they occur on weak beats and don't actually function as sustained harmony.) So the song essentially circles from IV to V but never resolving to I. Meanwhile, the vocal melody sings almost exclusively in a G major arpeggio, resolving the chords with the melody as opposed to the harmony, which creates a pleasant tension that propels to the song forward. (Note: this isn't actually completely unique. Similar techniques are used in "Teenage Dream," "Califonia Girls," "One More Time," and, most recently, Carly Rae Jepsen's new song "This Kiss").
Kudos, Scott. I mean no snark when I say that this is the most, er, interesting exegesis of a putatively disposable pop hit since Wilfrid Mellers compared the early ouevre of The Beatles to Schubert lieder.
And, finally, from our good buddy Sal Nunziato:
Must everything be "cool?" Or acceptable to the cognescenti?
What a wonderful world it would be....or 1973...if "Call Me Maybe" sat alongside Dylan's "Duquesne Whistle" and the new Shoes single and the new Public Enemy single and the new Joe Walsh and the new Patti Smith and the new Rihanna in the Top 10.
Exactly so. But your implied question -- how come this isn't in fact the state of the world? -- is something that perhaps might be a fruitful subject for future pondering.
Also, and I meant to add this yesterday, that there are far, far worse recent teen pop hit songs than "Call Me Maybe."
Consider, if you will, the truly satanic evil that was Colbie Caillat's "Bubbly."
Seriously, this comes off, to my ears anyway, like the very first songwriting attempt by a complete idiot. And if we're talking about songs that limn the romantic mores of contemporary high school kids, then "Bubbly" makes "Call Me Maybe" sound like Jane Austen's Emma by comparison.
Also, too -- if we want (and we probably should) ear candy bubblegum teen pop/rock songs in our lives...
...then isn't the above kinda more like the way they oughta be done?