"Call Me Maybe," Gotye and Auntie Dance Parties: Carly Rae Jepsen Talks Breakout Year

It's been a long time since we've had a single pop song define a year the way that Carly Rae Jepsen's "Call Me Maybe" did 2012. After receiving some social-media love from Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez just after New Years, the track achieved full-on meme status in the spring and hit no. 1 in June, cementing its status as the song of the summer by holding onto the top spot for nine weeks. PSY's "Gangnam Style" stole some of its viral luster as fall rolled around, but even that was a boon in disguise: By the end of the year we were so sick of "Gangnam Style" parody videos that we forgot how annoyed we had been with the multitude of "Call Me Maybe" imitations, and the track could be appreciated fresh. When it came time for us to name our song of the year, there was no competition.

Experiencing this wild ride firsthand was Jepsen, a former Canadian Idol winner whose previous music had been little-heard outside her native land. Though she'd already stopped by our office earlier in the year, we touched base with Our Girl once again, to ask about her breakout year.

How was your year? We're guessing it went pretty well.

It's been the year of my life. So far, so great. I was not expecting to be taken on this crazy adventure, but it's something I'd been hoping and dreaming might happen. I'm very lucky.

 What were the best and worst things about the roller coaster ride?

The best thing was getting to travel around the world and see places that I'd only hoped to be able to take a peek at. I got to go to London, and I had a bit of time there to sneak around and explore and go shopping. And then just had some lazy dinners out. Some classic English meals.

The hardest thing has just been being away from my family and friends on a more regular basis. We're adjusting as best we can; my mom has even learned how to text! I'm looking forward to Christmas for that reason. Just taking a few days or a few weeks over the holidays to do nothing and hang out together.

You're playing Dick Clark's Rockin' New Year's Eve in Times Square. Before all the madness, how did you celebrate last year?

I had a New Years party at my place, actually. I'm game for hosting things. I like to bake and cook, and I love throwing a party if it ends up a living-room dance party or a jam session. I had my friends all dress up, I was in a top hat. We counted down outside in my patio.

Can you remember your resolution?

I was hoping that my music would break out of Canada, and that had been a goal of mine for a while. On iTunes we were in the top 11 before Justin [Bieber] tweeted about "Call Me Maybe," and I remember hoping that it would maybe make it into the top 10. That was my goal.

What was your favorite song of the year, besides any you were on?

I really liked the Gotye track, "Somebody That I Used to Know." It was cool because it was my introduction to Kimbra, the New Zealand artist. And I just thought it was reminiscent of Sting in a way. I loved the music video and how artistic it got.

Did you have mixed emotions then, when you knocked it out of no. 1?

I was happy just to be in the running with everybody!

Is there anything you didn't like this year?

I'm a little out of the loop on pop culture before this year. I remember being asked, due to the fact that I didn't have a TV until very recently, if I liked Snooki, and I asked, what's a Snooki?

Why didn't you have a TV?

It wasn't a moral decision, it was just a coincidence. My roommate at the time had moved out, and she took the TV with her. I had every aim to replace it, but I kind of enjoyed not having it around. I spent more time cooking and socializing. That was around the time when I was writing "Call Me Maybe," so maybe it was a good thing.

What was that songwriting process like?

It was a song that started a little folkier and then ended up being a little bit poppier by the end of it. Travis Crowe, my guitarist, and I wrote it on the road, and we took it to Josh [Ramsay, lead singer of the Canadian band Marianas Trench] and he helped us popify it—adding the synths, a lot of production stuff. We all wanted it to have that vibe where you could sing along to it. It was surprisingly a really easy write. The whole process wasn't more than four days long.

When you were writing "Call Me Maybe," did you know it would be as special as it was?

Playing it for my family was one of the indicators that it had something special to it. I showed it to my aunt and I remember her getting off the couch and starting a little dance party. I'd never seen a reaction like that from her, and I remember thinking, "hmmm."

How do you feel when you hear it now? Are you sick of it?

It always really insane to me. It's one of those moments when I hear it and I can't believe where I am. The biggest shock was the first time I heard it in Texas. Before that time it had only played in Canada. I remember we were doing a promo run in the US, and I remember stepping to get some snacks at a gas station and it was just playing on the radio. And I remember stopping the van and making all the band members come in. We probably just forget about the snacks.

Of all the parody videos released this year, did you have a favorite?

I like the Cookie Monster one the best!

Is there a song on your album you wish would get as big as "Call Me Maybe"?

I don't try to think of my songs like that, more about the songs that I'm most pumped about. "This Kiss" is one of my favorite on the record and I can't wait to share "Tonight I'm Getting Over You." 

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