The Year of Dedicated

It’s been a year since Carly Rae Jepsen released Dedicated. I’ll be amazed if another album makes me feel the same way again. Carly broke onto the scene with Call Me Maybe. That song has an undeserved bad rap - it’s one of the best songs ever made, a pure distillation of the impossibility of love, the suspension of disbelief from its main characters. Call Me Maybe appears on 2012’s Kiss. It, too, is a masterpiece that expands on the themes of Call Me Maybe. Kiss is teenage love run amok, with no second-guessing and no complications.

2015 came, and Carly hit her big break. She has yet to match the popularity of Call Me Maybe, but what she lacks in audience she has in acclaim. Critics and popheads loved E•MO•TION, insisting that it wasn’t like the “crap” that Call Me Maybe was. As you might expect, I was looking for something more Kiss-like. It’s a great album with some perfect (Warm Blood) or near-perfect tracks (LA Hallucinations), but I was bummed out by the content. It seemed more focused on getting over past relationships than forging ahead with new ones.

Her next major album was Dedicated, and it almost passed me by completely. On my first listen, I was intrigued by the 80s-style sound. E•MO•TION explored this quite a bit, but for whatever reason, I liked it more here. Soon after, I almost gave up on it completely. I just wasn’t feeling it.

And then I listened to it 4 times in one day. Love doesn’t have to make sense. Dedicated is and was everything to me. Every time I heard it, it revealed a new truth. What I missed in my stubbornness over wanting “Kiss 2” was that this was a blend of Kiss and E•MO•TION: teen naivete mixed with adult contemplation. This is Kiss 2 - it’s Kiss grown up, Kiss with more time and more relationships. There are tracks of lost love - both painful (Julien) and less so (Right Words Wrong Time). These are balanced by the pure heartthrobbing joy of, honestly, my abridged cut of the album (No Drug Like Me, Now That I Found You, Want You In My Room, Feels Right).

In-between are the thinking tracks. Tracks that wonder the point of love, or whether love is even possible at all. Tracks like Too Much:

So be careful if you’re wanting this touch,
‘cause if I love you, then I love you too much
Is this too–
Is this too–
Is this too much?

Too Much is me as a song. There’s no better proof of this than my actual listening history for Dedicated. In just a year, I’ve listened to it more than any other album except Lady Gaga’s Born This Way, and they’re basically tied. When you see that I’ve been listening to Born This Way for six years vs. Dedicated’s single year, it’s clear how much Dedicated has impacted me.

Graph of my play history, with “Born This Way” and “Dedicated” neck-and-neck.

Outside of it being the one-year anniversary, I am motivated to write this to document my feelings on Dedicated, as they are right now, on May 17, 2020. I’m disappointed in myself because I missed my window. For 8-10 glorious months, it was most likely my favorite album – a lock for top-five at a minimum. That’s one hell of a honeymoon, but it seems I’m on the other side of it.

I will still forcefully argue for every component of Dedicated. The lyrics range from amazing to perfect. The music and production are flawless. If E•MO•TION was 1985, this one is 1985 plus another decade. Not the 1995 we know, but an alternate universe that only Carly Rae Jepsen has heard. One with a ton of fat synths and Madonna-esque bubblegum. But despite my praise it’s a little hard for me to listen all the way through. That abridged cut I mentioned is how I usually listen these days, adding on Real Love (a more somber track) at the end.

I hope I can always come back to Dedicated and feel something. I hope someday I can come back, maybe after a longer break, and feel like I felt in the honeymoon. If not, “I had a summertime”, and that’s more than I asked for.