ARTICLE EVELYN CROWLEY
PHOTOGRAPHY DOUG INGLISH
STYLIST SAMANTHA TRAINA
SOON AFTER HER SPLASHY HOMAGE TO UNREQUITED LOVE CAUGHT THE EAR OF JUSTIN BIEBER, CARLY RAE JEPSEN SKYROCKETED TO THE TOP OF THE CHARTS. NOW WITH A NEW ALBUM AND A WORLDWIDE TOUR IN THE WORKS, THE CANADIAN SONGSTRESS IS THE ONE CALLING THE SHOTS, DEFINITELY
It started with a tweet. “Call me maybe by Carly Rae Jepson [sic] is possibly the catchiest song I’ve ever heard lol,” posted @justinbieber to his legions of followers. It was December of last year and the pop star was in his hometown of Stratford, Ontario, for the holidays. He’d heard the song on the radio—a sunny, synthy appeal to a crush—and like millions to come, was hooked. Almost instantly Jepsen’s own Twitter account was inundated with direct messages from around the globe. “[It] sparked a little bit of an online fire,” she says. “Justin is really the reason why the game changed for me.”
Indeed. At the time, the 26-year-old Canadian singer-song- writer was touring her home turf in what she describes as “a soccer-mom van,” opening for the band Hanson. Two months later, she had signed with School Boy Records, the U.S. label helmed by Bieber’s manager, Scooter Braun, and agreed to let the Biebs himself promote and mentor her. “It wasn’t until we actually signed the deal that I really let myself get excited,” says Jepsen. “And every day since then it’s just been, Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God!”
A Cinderella story no doubt, but to paint the chirpy, likable Jepsen as an industry neophyte would be a little disingenuous. The singer has enjoyed a solid career in Canada since 2007, when she came in third on Canadian Idol. “That was enough to get a bit of face time and be able to put out some songs,” says the British Columbia native, who released a debut album, Tug of War, the following year and an EP, Curiosity, last winter.
But now, with Bieber in her corner and a hit song under her belt, Jepsen is on the brink of serious stardom. This month she hits the road on Bieber’s sold-out Believe tour, opening every concert on the 45-city jaunt. “I feel like I should feel frightened, but it’s just pure joy that I have right now,” she says.
Fall also brings the release of her sophomore album. “It is pop, but it’s not all just happy feel-good,” says Jepsen of the LP, which includes a track she recorded with Bieber. “There’s going to be some angry love songs and more passionate pieces as well.”
Meanwhile “Call Me Maybe,” which Jepsen wrote about her now boyfriend, has achieved summer anthem status, peaking at number one on iTunes, the Top 40, and Billboard’s Hot 100. The song also spawned a meme monster, with everyone from Bieber and Selena Gomez to Katy Perry to the Miami Dolphins’ cheerleaders uploading lip-sync versions onto YouTube. Even President Obama (unknowingly) joined the movement when excerpts from a few of his speeches were strung together to form the song’s lyrics in a music video. “It was pretty odd, but really cool,” says Jepsen of watching America’s Commander in Chief recite some of her PG-13 verses (“Ripped jeans, skin was showin’”).
Jepsen doesn’t seem overly fazed by her newfound fame and its attendant absurdities. She still drives her soccer-mom van, and when she mentions that her songwriting idol, John Mayer, sent her a handwritten fan letter, you can practically feel the burn emanating from her blushing cheeks. In fact, the only concession she’s made to her heightened celebrity is in the wardrobe department. “One day I went to the grocery store in my pajama bottoms to grab milk, and the cashier asked if he could have a picture,” she says. “I was like, Oh, I should prob- ably no longer wear pajama bottoms in public.”