Many dismissed Carly Rae Jepsen as a one-hit wonder after her 2012 summer smash “Call Me Maybe,” but she continues to release quality material. Jepsen performs at the Showbox on Monday, Feb. 29.
You’d have to have been living off the grid in the summer of 2012 to have missed Carly Rae Jepsen’s international dance-pop smash “Call Me Maybe,” with its synthesized strings and playful hook: “Hey, I just met you / and this is crazy / but here’s my number / so call me maybe?”
What maybe is a little crazy, or at least surprising, is that the Canadian singer-songwriter — at the Showbox on Monday (Feb. 29) — has become a crossover phenomenon.
Jepsen’s ubiquitous “Maybe” could have been a ticket to one-hit wonderland. (The only other track from her debut to chart, “This Kiss,” topped out at No. 86 on Billboard’s Hot 100.) But her 2015 follow-up “Emotion,” besides producing two more charted singles (“I Really Like You” and “Run Away With Me”) and moving a respectable 100,000 units worldwide, finished third in the Village Voice’s Pazz & Jop critic’s poll, just behind hip-hop’s Kendrick Lamar and indie rock’s Courtney Barnett.
Carly Rae Jepsen
With Cardiknox, Fairground Saints, 7 p.m. Monday, Feb. 29, at the Showbox, 1426 First Ave., Seattle; $25-$30 (206-628-3151 or showboxpresents.com).
In a phone interview, Jepsen explained that her goal with “Emotion” was “to make an ’80s pop album for those who are like-minded, loving the ’80s, loving pop … or have a secret love affair with it.”
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Not unlike Haim’s similarly ’80s-styled “Days Are Gone” and Daft Punk’s “Random Access Memories,” “Emotion” rocks the party but doesn’t skimp on songcraft. Unabashedly heartfelt — “I love sincerity!” she says, laughing — and with a welcome lack of modern-day text-slang, the 30-year-old singer’s recent LP reaches beyond “Call Me Maybe” teenyboppers — to their chaperones and indie kids.
Anthemic songs like “Run Away With Me” and “Boy Problems” — both of which rival “Maybe” for catchiness — stand out for their positivity in a time of so much angst and cynicism.
Playing Seattle is a sort of homecoming for Jepsen, who grew up just across the border in Mission, B.C., a suburb of Vancouver. She still uses the same backup band she always has, save for one member — which makes their sustained success feel that much sweeter, she said.
“Back in the day, I’d try to entice them,” she remembered. “Like — ‘I’ll make lasagna if you rehearse with me right now!’ because I didn’t have any money. And they’d do it. I think that’s why, now, performing doesn’t feel like work so much. There’s just an authenticity to every night where you get to really tap into why you love a song. You don’t feel like you have to filter anything.”