Summer pop songs — which bring everyone to the dance floor at the prom and blast from the speakers at the pool — have common threads: innocence, sexuality, and irony. A good summer song is chaste enough for kids to hear it on the radio, but has a hint of something more for older listeners. It’s goofy enough to make hipster-ironic appreciation of the song, as well as parody, easy. Most important, it is danceable.
This year’s contenders for the song of summer are the cover story for this weekend’s Sunday Style section, by Chris Richards. What will we all be humming at the next barbecue — will it be one of the boy bands, still new enough to be difficult to tell apart? Will it be one of the European pop stars attempting to make it on the American charts?
The jury is still out on which song will, forever more, make people remember what they were doing when they last heard it in the summer of 2012, but as for the viral hit of the season, there’s almost no contest: Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe” hits all the right notes. The 26-year-old former “Canadian Idol” contestant whose name makes her seem like she should have gotten her own show on the Disney Channel not only has everyone singing her song, but she’s got them making viral videos of it, too.
If “Call Me Maybe” hasn’t gotten its hook into your head by now, it’s only a matter of time. Jepsen’s earwormy tune has all the characteristics of a great summer song, as did Katy Perry’s ”California Gurls” in 2010, and “I Kissed a Girl” in 2008, and LMFAO’s “Party Rock Anthem” last August. It describes the nervousness of making the first move on a crush: “Hey, I just met you / And this is crazy / So here’s my number / So call me, maybe?”
Because Jepsen isn’t taking herself seriously — especially not as seriously as the song’s musical influences, teen queens Britney Spears and Mandy Moore did, circa 1999 — that makes it okay for people who think it’s cheesy to enjoy it, too. Hence the rapid growth of parodies and homemade music videos popping up on blogs and social media sites: Search for “Call Me Maybe” on YouTube, and you’ll get more than 24,000 results — many of them lip-synch videos from fans as wide-ranging as the Harvard Baseball Team to a homage by Katy Perry and friends, lounging poolside by a mansion. It’s also sparked a cottage industry of “Call Me Maybe” business cards for people to jokingly hand out at bars. (How are those working out for you, Alex and Kyle?)
So the timing is perfect for “Call Me Maybe”to become a viral, and summer hit. But will it fizzle out by the Fourth of July?