Overplayed Song of the Week: Owl City and Carly Rae Jepsen, ‘Good Time’
Every week, Hollywood Prospectus editor and masochistically devoted mainstream-radio listener Emily Yoshida will pick an aging Top 40 hit that she has heard enough times to render the song meaningless, and thus likely to inspire otherwise inaccessible epiphanies.
So, I have to admit, I’m straying from formula today on the OSOTW. “How’s that?” you may be asking. “I mean, sure, as summer hits go, ‘Call Me Maybe’ dwarfs Miss Rae Jepsen’s collaboration with the man who gave us ‘Fireflies,’ but ‘Good Time’ is doing its part to hang on to its version of relevancy long after the leaves have turned.”
To which I would say, yeah, but this morning was the first time I actually forced myself to listen to it all the way through. So in my experience, as personally curated by myself, “Good Time” is still freshly horrifying.
In these hyper-accelerated times, we talk about the sophomore single the way we used to talk about a sophomore album, and though Owl City is first on the billing here, this is, for all practical purposes, Carly Rae Jepsen’s follow-up to her aforementioned Bieber-endorsed, Braun-backed monster summer jam. This song matters more for Jepsen’s career than it does for Owl City’s (sorry I’m not sorry, Adam Young, I’ll get to you in a minute). So, at this pivotal point in what could either be a multi-platinum recording career, or a one-and-a-half-hit wonder, here are some questions I decided to ask myself.
Who is Carly Rae Jepsen, Pop Star? Girl, kind of goofy, Canadian.
How would you describe Carly Rae Jepsen’s voice? Girl, I wanna say soprano?
How would you describe Carly Rae Jepsen’s style? Girl, kind of goofy, Canadian.
Is Carly Rae Jepsen “sexy”? Come on! She’s like 16! That’s not appropr— oh wait, she’s 26? She’s older than Blake Lively? Weird.
For contrast, put yourself in 2008 (I know, not the most fun year on record, but play along for a second) and pretend you have just watched the video for Katy Perry’s “I Kissed a Girl.” Or Gaga’s “Just Dance,” my goodness. My guess is that you could answer those four questions with a lot more detail and confidence. And even though both of those artists have adopted somewhat-to-radically different styles since then, the original hook that made them legitimate superstars was just as much in the fully realized personae we were being introduced to as it was in their catchy choruses.
So there are a lot of question marks all over CRJ’s future. That’s fine. She’s doing pretty well for herself so far, and I think you’d have to dig pretty deep to find a rational person with a well-reasoned argument for why she’s somehow actively bad. This Owl City character, on the other hand … well, first of all, I’m not comfortable with his presence in that music video. Even though he’s only a year older than Jepsen, there’s something very off about that whole camping situation. Secondly, I was about to give society its second annual pat on the head for efficiently excising Adam Young from our public consciousness, but the winning streak has been broken. I’d like to make myself believe that Planet Earth could turn slowly away from this shameless biter, but 2012 is evidently not the year.
Production highlight: As much uncertainty as I have about her long-term pop-stardom, Carly’s “whoa-oa”s are the best part of the song, and something about the mix gives all of her vocals an otherworldly effervescence. I also have to admit that those gradually faded-in guitars are clichéd but pretty dance-worthy, even if this is probably just a song about going on a church camping trip.
Production lowlight: Something really bad happens near the end of this song. Something that can only have been the result of a late-in-the-game discovery of Passion Pit and Justice’s “D.A.N.C.E.” that led to the firm belief that every song can be improved by the presence of a chorus of adorable children. Unfortunately, “Good Time” was already dangerously veering into Kids Bop territory, and this is the hard shove it needed to go all the way. There’s G-rated fun, and then there’s active regression. (Which may or may not be a direct quote from the Owl City mission statement.)
What’s up with this Prince song inside my head?
Is that a real question? You want my honest opinion?
Lyrical lowlight: There are a lot of candidates for worse offenders, or at least more WTF-worthy passages, but I just can’t deal with every time Young crisply inquires whether I’m “down to get down tonight.” Are there any words less suited for the sparkly-eyed primness and flawless diction of Owl City? Also, you just learned to dance a few years ago, under the tutelage of some lightning bugs, and you’re already calling it “getting down”?