- School Boy
Listen to the track below
“Cut to the Feeling”
A lot of words have been written asking why E•MO•TION didn’t make Carly Rae Jepsen into the world’s biggest popstar. The difficult truth is that while Jepsen makes incredible pop music, she is actually not very good at being a popstar—centering herself in the music. Though that’s also one of the things that makes her so appealing to a certain swath of listeners. E•MO•TION came out at a time when mainstream pop was winking hard about ex-boyfriends and nemeses until subtext became headline and Lucille Bluth’s heavy eyelids looked subtle. Jepsen’s third album was refreshing because it was pleasingly blank, more interested in sensations than sensationalizing, focused on the act of desiring rather than its object.
“Cut to the Feeling” is one of E•MO•TION’s reputed 250 offcuts, which we’re now hearing thanks to its inclusion on the soundtrack to a kids’ movie called Leap. It’s bombastic and gaudy, like a trebly, millennial version of Belinda Carlisle’s “Heaven Is a Place on Earth.” It also sits quite happily alongside peak Robyn, Icona Pop’s “I Don’t Care,” and Frozen’s “Let It Go,” and contains some excellent pop “HEY!”s. Even so, it’s still distinctly Jepsen, her coaxing vocal creakiness convincing her paramour to stop denying what they want and just fucking go for it with her. “I wanna cut to the feeling!” she demands, sounding breathless and halfway there already. “Take me to emotion/I want to go all the way,” she sings to this guy, though really he’s just a mule for this brazen hedonist to reach those disembodied, ineffable highs.
Pop music is one of the truest ways to access those moments where “your frame of reference is shot and you are temporarily the most suggestible person alive,” as the writer Durga Chew-Bose describes it. That’s where Jepsen gets you. Maybe that makes her a meta-popstar, crafting music that celebrates pop euphoria while striving to attain it at the same time—and mostly succeeding. Regardless, it’s a good week to hear it.