Goodbye iconic black bangs and pining for a phone call, hello blonde bob and longing for in–person communication. While Carly Rae Jepsen’s style, sound, and musical content may have matured, her “Call Me Maybe” days still linger in her work. Her new single, “Julien,” released on April 19, is evidence of this.
“Julien” is part of the Canadian singer’s upcoming fourth studio album Dedicated, scheduled to drop May 17. The track’s release was preceded by three other songs: “Now That I Found You,” “No Drug Like Me,” and “Party For One.” However, a tweet from Jepsen emphasized the specific importance of “Julien” to her new album’s identity: "Julien is the song that taught me the heart and direction of this album. Couldn’t keep him for myself any longer,” she wrote.
So, after four years since her last album Emotion and seven years after “Call Me Maybe,” how much has Jepsen’s sound changed? If “Julien” is truly an indication of what her upcoming album will be like, then the answer is—it's changed just a bit.
“Julien” opens with a stacatto of synths that pair nicely with Jepsen’s breathy abruptness as she sings, “Woke up this mornin’, it feels like everyday / I got the blues, babe, not going away.” Julien is an unknown man with whom Jepsen “had a moment... had a summertime,” but left after Jepsen evidently refused to leave with him—it seems like maybe he wanted them to run away together. Since then, she sings, “I’ve been so torn up, I’ve been so out of it / I’m forever haunted by our time.” Like “Call Me Maybe,” Jepsen is hung up on some guy the audience knows very little about.
The song progresses with a steady beat and more electronic sounds, culminating in an upbeat synth–funk tune reminiscent of a 70s–80s dancefloor bop. Even Jepsen’s pose in the audio video—with long fringe over her legs, hip popped, and hand thrust behind her head—screams "ready to dance". Introduced by chimes and shimmers, Jepsen sings the name of her lost lover: “Julien, in your heart, yeah, you must believe / Julien, it was more than a fantasy / To the end, through the last breath that I breathe / I’ll be whispering, ‘Julien.’”
Jepsen is having fun, and the listener is, too. While her sound mirrors one of decades past, it is still relatively unique for today and different than her bubblegum pop of 2012. The song has interesting sequences, like a period where her voice is muffled and moves into an echoed sound until her words gradually become clearer and clearer.
Regardless, the structure of the song—pre–chorus, chorus, and post–chorus—and a steady beat throughout creates a feeling of repetitiveness similar to “Call Me Maybe.” This repetitiveness does make the song easier to sing along to—and even more appropriately—dance to, however. In fact, “Julien” is the kind of song you would want to bop to in front of a mirror, maybe singing to a make–believe figure, jumping around with a fake microphone. “Call Me Maybe” is that kind of song, too. Both are catchy, plain and simple. However, “Julien,” both in sound and subject matter, appeals to a more mature audience than “Call Me Maybe.”
Jepsen’s work is growing up with her audience. No longer about daydreaming of Prince Charming giving you a call, Jepsen and her audience have already had a fling with someone, but they miss this person. Despite this despair, they can still have fun, and dance while they’re at it. One can only assume that Dedicated as a whole will follow suit and provide lots of tracks for said dancing.