From “Call Me Maybe” One-Hit Wonder to Gay Icon

Thank you to Emma Miller ’21 for helping me open my third eye and realize the Campus Journal (CJ) and Carly (Rae) Jepsen (CJ) relationship that was always staring me straight in the face. This article is dedicated to her.

It started out with a Kiss, how did it end up like this? It was only a Kiss, it was only a Kiss.

If you know anything about the discography of Carly Rae Jepsen (alternatively, Carly Slay Jesusen as the Twitter Gays have affectionately begun to call Her), you would know that “Kiss” is the album that included Her breakout hit “Call Me Maybe.”

In 2012, the third place Canadian Idol contestant made a bang with the release of Her second album “Kiss’” debut single, “Call Me Maybe.” The single was, to quote Lady Gaga, “Talented, brilliant, incredible, amazing, show stopping, spectacular, never the same, totally unique, completely not ever been done before, unafraid to reference or not reference, put it in a blender, shit on it, vomit on it, eat it, give birth to it.” Very that.

“Call Me Maybe” was universally loved, if even simply for the reason that people loved to hate it. People of all demographics were stanning Carly with this release. With “Call Me Maybe,” Carly had somehow gotten the Straights to stan girly, over-the-top pop music in a way that is unimaginable in our current music climate. That being said, this was the early 2010s, when Ke$ha, Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, Rihanna, and Jennifer Lopez, among others, were running the charts.

While Carly Rae Jepsen’s far-reaching grab to get the Straights on Her side and get a nine-week number one on the Billboard Hot 100 is impressive, Her rise to transcend the one-hit wonder status and reach gay icon is probably even more astronomical. The Straights are easily swayed, but getting the Gays to fully stan takes hard work, perseverance, and determination.

From the rise and fall of Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe” until the March of 2015 (roughly two and a half years), Carly Rae Jepsen fell off the radar basically for everyone. Straights and Gays alike had seemingly agreed to demote Her as a forgotten one-hit wonder and it appeared as though She would stay that way.

But then the debut single of Carly’s third studio album “EMOTION” came out, titled “I Really Like You.” The sound was familiar, and in many ways called back to the bubbly “Call Me Maybe” that got Carly Her initial fame. That being said, in terms of chart success, it flopped. The Straights had moved on. Gone were the days of bubbly pop girl music. Instead, the charts were starting to see an influx of mumble rap and EDM.

Despite the Straights paying Carly dust, the release of “I Really Like You” got the attention of someone, or rather, someones.

The Gays.

Suddenly, an interest was sparked. This kind of irreverent, stupid pop music was what was missing in the music scene. Like, yes, “I Really Like You” wasn’t the most thought provoking song, with the lyrics of the chorus being:

“I really, really, really, really, really, really like you

And I want you, do you want me, do you want me too?

I really, really, really, really, really, really like you

And I want you, do you want me, do you want me too?”

That being said, that’s what we (the Gays) wanted! We wanted stupid fun pop music, and that’s exactly what Carly was providing. Carly seemed determined to show multiple sides of Her with “EMOTION” however, as seen with the release of Carly’s promotional single “All That” on April 5. It was a more stripped back, mature sound for Her. With this, Carly was showing that She was going for artistic growth with “EMOTION,” which only aided in the Gays’ hype for Her album release. If there’s anything the Gays like, it’s a timely artistic reinvention (i.e. Gaga (minus Joanne), Madonna).

Carly would go on to release three more promotional singles in the lead up to the release of “EMOTION:” “Warm Blood” on July 31, “Making the Most of the Night” on August 7, and “Your Type” on August 14; All of which were released in the three weeks leading up to the release of the album, which was August 21, 2015.

On August 21, 2015, Carly Rae Jepsen broke the internet. And by internet, I mean Gay Twitter. And by Gay Twitter, I mean the small subsection of Gay Stan Twitter that was in the know regarding Carly and had been hyping Her up prior to the release of “EMOTION.”

“EMOTION” was vulnerable, it was different, it was impactful, it was emotion in all its glory. The happy, the sad, the love, the (really really really really really really) like. It was simply beautiful, and you could tell that Carly took the three years between “Kiss” and “EMOTION” to craft the perfect pop album.

While the album made absolutely zero waves commercially, critically it did wonders. Carly Rae Jepsen was quickly establishing herself as a music critic gem. And, as always, the Gays had taste. While Straights were stanning Ed Sheeran and Maroon 5, the Gays unanimously voted

“Run Away With Me” as THE song of 2015 (Billboard claimed it was “Uptown Funk,” but “Run Away With Me” outsold).

The Carly Rae Jepsen wave was tangible and very real. Gays everywhere were suddenly listening to EMOTION nonstop. “Boy Problems” became an anthem. “Your Type” was the perfect song for when you’re in love with a Straight who doesn’t and could never love you back, with poignant lyrics, “I’m not the type of girl for you, and I’m not going to pretend, I’m the type of girl you call more than a friend.”

She wrote that for the GAYS!

With EMOTION, Carly had done something seemingly more impactful than craft a best-selling record, She had won the Gays over. The Gays are vicious and judgemental and will leave you in the blink of an eye, but three years after EMOTION the Gays are still just as excited over Carly as they were then.

Tweets such as, “Carly Rae Jepsen threw the first brick at Stonewall.” or “Messiah of pop is coming to bless us all with Her Word” are common on Twitter. She’s here, She’s queer (honorary), and She’s here to stay.

If you as a Straight reading this have no idea what I’m talking about, exactly. She’s not for you. You abandoned Her during Her best, and it’s only up from here as She prepares for Her fourth studio album. If you as a Gay reading this have no idea what I’m talking about, listen to EMOTION now. You won’t regret it.

Feature image courtesy of

Dylan Clairmont

Dylan Clairmont '21 edits for the Campus Journal. He is a DPA, a board member of SQU, and a board member of Swat Dems. He is interested in capturing the current climate of campus and including that in The Phoenix.

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